Barak: Egypt has 'no alternative' but to keep peace

December 3, 2011 19:54

Defense minister says Israel-Egypt peace treaty helps "keep the Egyptian economy going, to keep up their ability to provide basic services to their citizens".

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Egyptian election workers count ballots

Egyptian election workers count ballots 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany)

Israel voiced deep concern on Saturday at the electoral rise of hostile Islamism in Egypt but urged the Arab power to consider it had "no alternative" to maintaining its peace accord with the Jewish state.

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which had been curbed under former President Hosni Mubarak's US-backed regime, expects to win the most seats in the new assembly after this week's first round of voting, with ultra-conservative Salafis the likely runner-up.

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'Israel biggest loser from Muslim Brotherhood win in Egypt'

"This is very, very worrisome. It is too early to predict how the changes that we face will end up. It could be that in an historical context, they are positive. In an immediate context they are problematic," Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said.

"I very much hope that, whatever government arises in Egypt, with whatever constitution arises in Egypt, it will understand that ... there is no alternative but to maintain the framework of international agreements, among them the peace accord with us," he told Israel's top-rated Channel Two television.

Barak said this framework helps "keep the Egyptian economy going, to keep up their ability to provide basic services to their citizens".

Egypt was the first Arab country to recognise Israel, with a 1978 treaty that secured Cairo billions in annual US aid and regained it control of the Israeli-occupied Sinai.

Sinai, which is demilitarised under the peace deal, has in recent years worried Israel as a gun-running conduit to Palestinian militants in the neighbouring Gaza Strip. Security has frayed there further since Mubarak's fall in February.

Gaza is governed by Hamas Islamists who have ideological kinship with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and refuse permanent coexistence with Israel.

Barak expressed hope Egyptian authorities "will also make themselves available to seriously tackle the Sinai situation".

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