Egypt Salafists against improving ties with Israel

Movement says it stands firmly against normalization of relations, against any entity that wants to harm Egypt's identity.

December 25, 2011 10:24
2 minute read.
Abo El-Maty of the Salafist party

Abo El-Maty of the Salafist party 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Amr Dalsh)


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Egypt’s leading Salafi movement on Sunday clarified the party's stance on diplomatic relations with Israel, saying that it would oppose an improvement in ties between the two countries.

"We will stand firmly against normalization [of ties] between the two countries in a variety of forms, and against any entity that wants to harm Egypt's identity," the movement announced in a written statement quoted by Army Radio.

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Salafis represent a fundamentalist religious stream that seeks to create an Islamic state according to strict social codes and a legal system based entirely on Islamic law. The various Salafi parties have thus far been the biggest surprise of the Egyptian parliamentary elections, taking about 30 percent of votes to place second after the Muslim Brotherhood which garnered around 40%.

The announcement came a week after a spokesman for the group gave an interview to Army Radio, during which he said "the peace agreement with Israel will not be canceled."

Nour Party spokesman Yusri Hammad said during the unprecedented interview "we are not against the agreement but we say that Egypt is committed to the agreements signed by the previous governments."

“If there are some clauses that the people of Egypt want to change in the agreements, then these belong on the negotiating table,” he said. “We respect all treaties.”

The head of the Salafi movement last Tuesday also spoke about the peace treaty issue and said that the party would respect Cairo’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

Representatives of the party quickly backtracked, however, saying the matter was still being looked into.

“Treaties Egypt has signed must be upheld – we intend to respect them,” Nour party chairman Emad Abdel Ghaffour told a press conference in Cairo, adding though that Israel has not implemented certain clauses in the agreement regarding the Palestinians.

These include “a solution to the Palestinian issue, their right to self-determination, self-governance and the creation of a Palestinian state on Palestinian land,” Abdel Ghaffour said.

Oren Kessler contributed to this report.

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