'Egypt affirms commitment to Israel peace treaty'

Egyptian defense minister telephones Barak, discuss coordination on Sinai military operations, reports 'Al-Hayat.'

By JPOST.COM STAFF
August 24, 2012 09:17
2 minute read.
Ehud Barak talks on the phone

Ehud Barak talks on the phone 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/POOL Old)

 
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Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke by telephone to his Egyptian counterpart Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Friday morning, according to Arabic-language news agency Al-Hayat.

According to the report, al-Sisi affirmed Egypt's commitment to maintaining the 1979 Camp David peace treaty with Israel in the phone call, ahead of a meeting with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy.

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The report comes over speculation that relations with Egypt could break down over an Egyptian military build-up for counter-terror operations in Sinai, and Morsy's plan to attend the Non-Aligned Movement's conference taking place in Tehran at the end of the month. The conference marks the first visit to Iran by an Egyptian president since Egypt’s recognition of Israel.

On Sinai issue, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said this week that Israel must ensure that "every letter of the peace treaty is enforced," referring to Camp David's provision that Egyptian forces stay out of Sinai. Former Israeli Military Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin, however, commented that there is no need to latch on to every letter of the agreement.

“What the Egyptians are doing in Sinai today is a more significant effort than in the past to deal with terrorism,” Yadlin said. “So long as the operation is widespread and focused against terrorism, I think we need to look at this realistically.”

Al-Sisi, Hussain Tantawi's replacement, is also reported to have confirmed the understanding between Cairo and Jerusalem regarding military operations to combat terrorism in Sinai.

The movement of military hardware into Sinai comes after a deadly attack earlier this month on Egyptian border guards that left 16 dead. Part of the assault included an attempt to breach the border with Israel. Israel reportedly had warned Egypt about the attack before it happened. Following the attack, Israel agreed to the movement of additional Egyptian troops into the region to control the terrorists.

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Under the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, Israel agreed to withdraw its troops and citizens from Sinai and return it to Egypt in return for normalized relations and a restriction on the number of Egyptian troops allowed to enter Sinai, particularly near the border with Israel. Israel has called on Egypt to control the terrorists in Sinai.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton told Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr to stress importance of transparency on military moves in Sinai. Clinton reiterated the importance of acting transparently as Cairo deploys aircraft and tanks in Sinai for the first time since a 1973 war with Israel, to pursue Islamist militants involved in August 5 attack.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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