(photo credit: Courtesy)
The man who served as Egypt’s ambassador to Israel for over a decade was
reported as saying Thursday that the peace treaty between the two countries has
brought untold benefits to both Egyptians and Israelis and must under no
circumstances be annulled.
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In an interview with the pan-Arab daily Asharq
Al-Awsat, Mohamed Bassiouni said the 1979 peace treaty not only returned the
Sinai Peninsula from Israel, but cut Egypt’s military spending, increased
foreign investment and enhanced the country’s ties with the
“Bilateral relations between Egypt and Israel are different from
any other bilateral ties because of two interconnected issues,” said Bassiouni,
Egypt’s envoy in Tel Aviv from 1988 to 2001.
“First is the march to peace
– we must maintain good relations with Tel Aviv and strong lines of
communication first and foremost to serve the Arabs, especially given the
ongoing occupation of Arab lands and the many difficult issues that remain
“The second is relations with the United States – relations
that must pass through Israel. Fundamental to our relationship with Israel is
the national interest and security of Egypt.”
Bassiouni said that in his
13 years in Israel he had never once considered stepping down.
as a soldier in two wars and participated in the planning of the  October
War,” he said. “When [Mubarak] asked me to go to Tel Aviv, I considered it a war
of another kind – of political ideas, not of arms.
“The treaty has
achieved significant gains for us,” he added.
“First: the liberation of
Egyptian land. Second: the evacuation of settlements in the Sinai – the most
important issue of any.
Third: the recovery of oil fields. Fourth: the
regularization of navigation in the Suez Canal. Fifth: cutting the military
budget. And sixth: increased foreign investment in Egypt,” he said.
win-win – we both gain from the treaty. Politics is a game of wits – it must be
beneficial to all parties. I’m totally opposed to abolishing the treaty,”
In Israel, meanwhile, at least one lawmaker responded to
Wednesday’s apparent attack on the Sinai pipeline that transmits natural gas to
Israel by calling for Jerusalem to rethink the treaty.
National Union MK
Michael Ben-Ari wrote a letter Wednesday to Shaul Mofaz, chairman of the Knesset
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, urging the government to convene an
urgent discussion on Israel’s peace treaties with its
“Mubarak’s ouster from the Egyptian leadership revealed the
hostility towards Israel of the Egyptian people, most of whom hope to see the
treaty annulled,” Ben-Ari wrote.
A Pew Research Center poll released
Monday showed more than half of Egyptians favor overturning the 1979 peace
“By a margin of 54 percent to 36%, Egyptians say their country
should annul the treaty with Israel,” the survey by the Washington- based group
Views on retaining peace with Israel varied according to income and
education. Six in 10 Egyptians with lower incomes supported overturning the
agreement, while 45% of high-income Egyptians agreed.
of those with primary education or less favored annulling the treaty, while 40%
with a college education or more felt the same way.