Daily Israel Report

Al-Zahar: Bring Egyptian Army Back to Sinai

Hamas leader calls on Egypt to bring back army forces to the Sinai Peninsula, despite it being contrary to the agreements with Israel.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/15/2011, 5:09 AM / Last Update: 2/15/2011, 5:16 AM

Hamas chief Mahmoud al-Zahar said on Monday that while no one will ask Egypt to annul any agreements that were signed prior to the recent uprising and are “in the interest of the nation,” he believes that there are issues that should be looked at again right now, including Egypt’s military presence in the Sinai Peninsula as well as the sale of natural gas to Israel.

In an interview he gave to the Asharq Alawsat newspaper, al-Zahar said that Egypt can help Gaza with electricity and oil and should also position its forces in Sinai, despite it being against the agreements signed with Israel.

Al-Zahar said that the biggest loser in the recent events in Egypt is Israel, citing as proof comments made by opposition leader Tzipi Livni at the Herzliya Conference last week, where she said that the Israelis are now worrying about what will happen next in Egypt.

Al-Zahar also expressed his hope that Egypt’s new military leadership will open the Rafah crossing as soon as possible, as the passage has been closed for about two weeks. He noted that opening the crossing would be a way to renew the ties between Egypt and Gaza and added that from the viewpoint of the residents of Gaza, the closure of the Rafah border is a type of siege.

Al-Zahar’s comments come following reports on Sunday that the uprising in Egypt has had adverse effects on Gaza’s residents, including on patients living in Gaza who are slated for medical treatment in Egypt, and are unable to receive this treatment because the Rafah crossing is closed.

In response to the resignation of the PA cabinet and the decision by President Mahmoud Abbasto hold elections in the Palestinian Authority before the month of September, al-Zahar said that it is impossible to hold elections in the wake of the “siege” imposed on Hamas in Judea and Samaria and when there is no reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah. He made it clear that elections that take place under these conditions will be considered fraudulent by Hamas.

On Sunday, al-Zahar spoke to reporter Aaron Klein on New York’s WABC radio, and said that the U.S. empire is in decline and will fall, to be replaced by China and India as new world superpowers.

During the interview, he also called the Muslim Brotherhood the “most moderate organization, the most democratic organization, even more than the Western people.”