The former head of the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, expressed support on Tuesday for Palestinian Authority violence against Israel.
In a published report, The 68-year-old ElBaradei said the “resistance” was the only path open to PA Arabs because “the Israeli occupation only understands the language of violence.” ElBaradei, who recently stepped down as head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, is considering a run for the Egyptian presidency.
According to ElBaradei associate Ibrahim Nawar, the possible candidate told members of his new opposition party on Monday, “The peace process [with Israel] has become a stupid joke which we talk about without achieving any progress.” As for the security fence along the Gaza border, Nawar told reporters that ElBaradei said “It appears to be participation in the siege of Gaza, which has become the world's largest prison. The logical solution to the problem would be to close the tunnels and open border crossings while creating a free trade zone in Rafiah, where Palestinians can trade and then return to Gaza.”
Gaza's ruling Hamas terrorist faction allegedly closed down the tunnels for a short time on Wednesday, but later lifted the ban and clarified that supervision of the underground smuggling network would instead be intensified.
Strengthening or Splintering the Opposition in Egypt?
If the former nuclear inspector decides to run in the elections, scheduled for September 2011, it is likely he will further splinter the already divided opposition coalition, according to a Newsweek analysis. The strongest faction within that coalition, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, won 20 percent of the seats in the 2005 parliamentary elections running as an independent group. However, the faction is now split between the older, more conservative leaders and the younger, more politically motivated members. ElBaradei would deepen the divide, writes Newsweek analyst Sarah A. Topol.
President Hosni Mubarak, 81 and seriously ill, is undoubtedly hoping for just such an opportunity, given that he is working to ensure that his son Gamal follows in his footsteps to the presidency. Nonetheless, the feat may be more difficult than he originally anticipated; the ongoing government crackdowns on Muslim Brotherhood activities have sparked increased opposition at the grassroots level.
ElBaradei has already begun the not-so-quiet campaigning that precedes an official run for office, with visits to mosques and churches, complete with photo ops. He also established an official national “foundation” for democratic reform in the country.
At least 90 activists were beaten and jailed last week at a protest organized by the “6th of April Movement” linked to ElBaradei. The protest called for constitutional reform to ensure transparent elections, and demanded the lifting of the emergency laws that have allowed Mubarak to rule as a military dictator. The laws were enacted after the assassination of his predecessor, Anwar Sadat, who signed Egypt's peace treaty with Israel.