Muslim Brotherhood Rep. Says Peace Treaty With Israel May Be Put to a Vote

Rashad Bayoumi, deputy Supreme Leader of the Brotherhood, also said Egypt will not recognize Israel

A representative from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is indicating the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty may be reconsidered and put to a popular referendum.

“People will express their opinions on it,” said Rashad Bayoumi, deputy Supreme Leader of the Brotherhood whose Freedom and Justice Party recently won majorities in the new parliament. “All parties can reconsider the treaty and Egyptians haven’t yet had their say. We won’t violate the treaty. We can put it for referendum among people or parliament.”

This somewhat contradicts earlier indications made by the Muslim Brotherhood and their more conservative Salafist counterparts in the Al Nour Party that they intend to respect international treaties, including the 1979 treaty with Israel. Incidentally, many have suspected that the U.S. has been engaged in secret talks with Egypt’s newly elected Islamists urging them to maintain the pact.

Bayoumi also said that the Egyptian government will not recognize Israel. “This is not an option, whatever the circumstances, we do not recognize Israel at all. It’s an occupying criminal enemy.”

If put to a vote, as Bayoumi suggested might happen, it is likely the treaty will be abandoned, as it is very unpopular among the Egyptian people and is seen as an official acquiescence to to subjugation of Palestinians in the occupied territories as well as an abridgment of sovereignty by its prohibition on stationing troops in Egypt’s own Sinai Peninsula.

But nullifying the 1979 agreement with Israel probably wouldn’t mean replacing it with nothing. Majorities in Egypt are likely to support a deal perhaps similar to the Arab Peace Initiative, first introduced in 2002, which called for an Israeli retreat from the occupied territories back to the pre-1967 borders, a right of return for Palestinian refugees, and which had broad support across the Arab world.

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Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.