Israel viewed deposed Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak as a “treasure,” Cairo’s new
foreign minister said Saturday, but the days when Israel could do as it pleases
Nabil Elaraby said in an interview on Egyptian television that
Cairo reserves the right to review security arrangements stipulated in the 1979
Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, and that any such arrangements can be “amended”
with the signatories’ agreement.
Elaraby said the Sinai peninsula is not
a completely demilitarized zone, as stipulated in the agreement, but that his
government keeps a limited military presence in various sectors of the peninsula
and police units in the border zone with Israel.
The foreign minister
said the agreement does not allow for Israel to receive “special treatment” in
the prices Egypt charges for natural gas.
“Any issue is negotiable,” he
said, while adding that the issue would ultimately be decided within the
confines of the Petroleum Ministry.
Egyptian media have reported that the
government exports natural gas to Israel at prices lower than the cost of
Elaraby insisted that his government remains an important
player in the Middle East peace process, and that “the Palestinians want peace,
but Israel has not yet met their demands.”
Egypt’s military rulers
appointed Elaraby – an attorney who formerly served as the Egyptian ambassador
to the UN and as a judge in the International Criminal Court – to the foreign
minister post on March 6 as part of a cabinet reshuffle intended to meet popular
demands for political reform.
On Saturday, Elaraby described Iran as an
important nation in the Middle East and did not rule out renewing diplomatic
ties with Tehran, adding that most countries in the world, with the exception of
Israel and the US, have ambassadors in Tehran.
Last week, he expressed
similar sentiments, affirming that Egypt views no country as an “enemy state,”
and calling for “opening a new page” with the Islamic
Additionally, he characterized Hezbollah as part of Lebanon’s
political and social landscape, and welcomed communication between Cairo and the
Iranian-funded militant group.
Elaraby’s Iranian counterpart welcomed the
“A good relationship between the two countries will definitely
help stability, security and development in the region,” Iranian Foreign
Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said, according to a frontpage story in the
English-language Tehran Times.
Salehi reaffirmed Iran’s support for the
Egyptian revolution, saying, “The Egyptian people by taking steps toward
realizing their just demands opened a new chapter in the history of the country,
and again I congratulate them on this victory.”
He touted the “historic
relations” between the two states and said he “hopes in the new environment, we
witness an upgrade of relationship between the two countries and the two great
nations of Iran and Egypt.”
Sunday’s Tehran Times
included a news brief
on three “resistance fighters” killed in Gaza Friday by aircraft of the “Zionist
military,” and a color piece on Major League Baseball’s opening day.