Arab League chief Amr Moussa Egypt 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Abdallah Dalsh)
Amr Moussa, the outgoing Arab League chief and leading candidate for Egypt’s presidency, said Friday that if elected he would break with Hosni Mubarak’s consistently favorable policies toward Israel. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Moussa said the former president’s efforts to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had “led nowhere” and that Cairo needs new policies that “reflect the consensus of the people.”
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Moussa, 74, also described a political landscape in which the long-banned Muslim Brotherhood would be dominant. It is inevitable, he said, that parliamentary elections slated for September would bring about a legislature led by a Brotherhood-led Islamist bloc.
"Mubarak had a certain policy, it was his own policy and I don't think we have to follow this," he said of relations with Israel. "We want to be a friend of Israel, but it has to have two parties, it is not on Egypt to be a friend. Israel has to be a friend, too,” he said.
Moussa, Mubarak’s foreign minister from 1991 to 2001, told the paper he
would run as an independent, and if elected would not be beholden to his
predecessor’s policies. "We live in the 21st century and we have to be
part and parcel with those who influence the current circumstances in
the region or in the world," he said, referring to the wave of unrest
that unseated the presidents of Egypt and Tunisia and severely
undermined other leaders of the Arab world. "We were outside this
circle. We have to get back to it as partners in leading the world," he
A recent Pew Research Center poll found 89% of Egyptians had a positive
impression of Moussa, far ahead of competitors like reformist Ayman Nour
(70%) and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohammed ElBaradei (57%). Much of
that support stems from his consistently combative attitude toward
Israel and the US – on several occasions in recent years he has
described Israel’s reputed nuclear program as a greater threat to world
peace than that of Iran.
Moussa said one of the reasons for his 2001 dismissal as foreign
minister was a disagreement over Egypt's policy toward Israel. "There
was a conflict between us, no question," Moussa said of then-president
Mubarak. "A disagreement…over certain policies, including, but not only,
the Israeli policies, which I found leading nowhere. And they led
nowhere. We are in year 11 since I left. And where are we?"
On Saturday, Egypt’s newly installed foreign minister said Egypt’s 1979
peace treaty with Israel is not in danger, but that the two countries’
natural gas deal could be reconfigured.
“Egypt is going to comply with every agreement and abide by every treaty
it has entered into. That is the goal of treaties,” Nabil Elaraby told
the Washington Post. “Yes, every one. I did Camp David, of course. I
always say it is difficult to negotiate with Israel, but once it is done
and everything is signed, both sides abide and comply faithfully.”
“We have normal relations, and we will continue to have normal
relations,” Elaraby said. “We might have disagreements — you have
disagreements with your neighbors. We might disagree over the suffering
of the people in Gaza. We are going to alleviate the suffering of the
people in Gaza…We will provide for the needs of the people of Gaza. This
is very important for us. The United Nations, the EU, they have asked
us for that.”
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The foreign minister said Egypt-Israel commercial ties would remain
intact. “We will continue to sell gas to Israel. Its price — we may
disagree about the price — but that is commercial,” said Elaraby, a New
York University-educated lawyer appointed Cairo’s chief diplomat two
Israel Radio reported Sunday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had
held a secret meeting with Qatar’s prime minister on gas issues in
London. Late last month an explosion at the pipeline in the northern
Sinai Peninsula cut gas supplies to Israel, the second apparent act of
sabotage against the pipeline in two months.
“The meeting lasted for an hour and was held under heavy security
arrangements taken by the British authorities,” the station reported,
adding that UK diplomatic sources said the Qatari leader arrived in his
private jet, and later expressed his willingness to replace Egypt as
Israel’s main natural gas supplier.
Last week a number of Arabic newspapers and web forums reported Qatar's
industry minister had told his Israeli counterpart by phone that his
country was willing to export natural gas to Israel "for an unlimited
period of time and below market prices.”
Qatar is an important player in the natural gas industry, controlling
15% of the world's reserves. Israel and Qatar have previously held
natural gas talks throughout the 1990s and in 2008, but neither round of
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