Mazel:'Pragmatism prevails ahead of Egypt elections'

Ambassador Zvi Mazel discusses Wednesday's elections in Egypt and the ramifications for Israel.

Former Ambassador to Egypt Zvi Mazel (photo credit: Hadas Parush)
Former Ambassador to Egypt Zvi Mazel
(photo credit: Hadas Parush)
Five candidates are considered the main contenders in the Egyptian presidential elections, and Zvi Mazel, former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, said that whatever the outcome, he hopes "rationalism will prevail" in regards to relations with Israel.
Egyptians have accepted the framework of the elections, in which 13 candidates are eligible to run, and in the final days leading up to the election there have been small quarrels between supporters of different candidates, but no violent demonstrations, Mazel told Deborah Danan of the Jerusalem Post in an interview.
The elections feature Islamist candidates from the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties, alongside secular candidates, several of whom were linked to the military or the regime of ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. If a candidate does not win a majority in the elections scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday and the top two finishers will face each other in a run-off election next month.
"Later for the second round there might absolutely be a lot of violence," Mazel said.
The frontrunners for the election, according to Mazel, are: Amr Moussa, former Arab League secretary-general and Egyptian foreign minister; Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister under Mubarak; Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a former Muslim Brotherhood member now running as an independent; Mohammad Mursi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party; and Hamdin Sabbahi, leader of a party associated with the the Nasserist ideology.
Mazel did not specify which candidate he believes would be most ideal for Israel, only that he hopes the next president will continue to cooperate with Israel and maintain the countries'  peace agreement. Egypt terminated a long-term agreement to deliver gas to Israel in April, a move which Israeli leaders said threatened peaceful relations between the neighbors.
"Cooperation with Israel, in economy, trade, science, whatever, is very important for Egypt as it is important for Israel," Mazel said.
Several of the candidates have been unclear in describing how they would manage relations with Israel if elected, perhaps employing bit of pragmatism, Mazel said. Abdel-Moneim Aboul Fotouh has been described as a candidate promoting a more liberal brand of Islam, but Mazel said his association with the Muslim Brotherhood makes such a characterization invalid.
"You cannot put the word liberal to the Muslim Brotherhood. Muslim Brotherhood means we are for the imposition of Sharia on the country, and we are going to conquer all of the Middle East and then the world and then Islamize it," Mazel said.
The Muslim Brotherhood party has said it will allow Egyptians and Parliament to decide the country's approach to Israel, but Mazel said the party could make revisions to the peace agreement.