Maintaining the Israeli- Egyptian peace treaty has been the central issue in
secret US discussions with Egypt’s military rulers, Iranian Fars news agency
quoted Egyptian political figure Mohamed ElBaradei as saying Tuesday.
Egyptian presidential contender has been relatively quiet on the issue of
Egyptian- Israel relations and on the push-button issue of the Camp David peace
treaty, until he reportedly broke his silence on Tuesday.
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leader of the International Atomic Energy Agency told Fars that “what the
supreme military council said was that the talks were about bilateral and mutual
relations, but I believe that Americans wanted to ensure that the deals signed
between Egypt and Israel will remain intact if Islamists ascend to
“The negotiations were completely secret and confidential,”
In the initial hours after its publication, no
Egyptian figure denied that such meetings took place. ElBaradei himself did not
push the issue – there was no mention of his Fars interview on either his
Facebook page or his Twitter feed, both usual outlets for broadcasting the
The Egyptian peace treaty with Israel has become a
hot issue in the fledgling Egyptian democracy, partially due to what the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Eric Trager described as its close
association with the former regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
it’s true that the US is holding conversations with Egyptian political players
about Camp David, it would be a very positive thing,” said Trager.
Trager said that the Fars report seemed “a little bit
“ElBaradei has been a lot less populist on the issue of Camp
David than other contenders. He has occasionally stepped out to criticize
Israel and gas deals with Israel, but it is not clear what the upside is of him
speaking as he reportedly did,” explained Trager, who observed the first round
of Egyptian elections on the ground in Egypt earlier this year. “This report is
quite out of the ordinary.”
Trager said that although “Israel in general
has been a secondary issue in post- Mubarak period,” there is “a consensus among
political players that Camp David should be changed or be
The Muslim Brotherhood has been at the forefront of Camp
The Brotherhood, says Trager, “wants to find a way to
sink Camp David without being responsible for it,” and is championing the idea
of holding a national referendum to revoke or amend the over three-decades-old
“I hope that the American administration really has been
having these types of conversations with Egyptians,” added Trager. “What America
needs to do is force the Muslim Brotherhood to decide between their ideology and
their pragmatic interests. It is not in Egypt’s interest to start a conflict
with the most powerful military force in the region.”
According to Fars,
senior Muslim Brotherhood member Kamal al-Halbawi said in early December that
“the issue of revising the Camp David Accords will also be in the list of the
top priorities of [Egypt’s new] officials to be studied in its appropriate
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party is leading in
Egypt’s parliamentary elections.
But anti-Camp David sentiment, said
Trager, is present in many of Egypt’s political streams, including
leftist-secular movements and parties with even more radical Islamist ideology
than that of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Nader Bakar, a spokesman of the
Salafi al-Nour party, which has won about a quarter of the Egyptian vote thus
far, told Fars on Saturday that “al-Nour is against the establishment of any
relations with the Zionist regime.”
The spokesman also rejected reports
that Nour leaders met with Israel’s ambassador to Egypt, calling them a smear
campaign against the Islamist party.
George Ishaq, a member of the
National Association for Change, led by ElBaradei, was also quoted telling Fars
earlier in the fall that “Camp David has been annulled and has no more credit