US: Muslim Brotherhood Will Uphold Israel Treaty

The United States says it has "good guarantees" the Muslim Brotherhood will uphold the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.

Gabe Kahn. ,

Sadat and Begin
Sadat and Begin
Israel news photo: Gefen Publishing

US State Department Victora Nuland told reporters Thursday that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood had assured Washington it would uphold extant diplomatic accords, including the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty signed by Anwar al-Sadat and Menachem Begin.

Nuland's statement flew in the face of statements by Rashad al-Bayoumi, the Brotherhood's number two man, who told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper "the Muslim Brotherhood will not recognize Israel under any circumstances and might put the peace treaty with the Jewish state up to a referendum.

"The Brotherhood did not sign the peace accords… We are allowed to ask the people or the elected parliament to express their opinion on the treaty, and (to find out) whether it compromised the people's freedom and sovereignty.

"We will take the proper legal steps in dealing with the peace deal. To me, it isn't binding at all. The people will express their opinion on the matter," he added.

Nonetheless, Nuland insisted that the various political parties in Egypt have offered the US "good guarantees."

Analysts believe that the Muslim Brotherhood, which has won 40% of the vote in Egypt's ongoing paliamentary contest, will take a pragmatic course and tread lightly as it forms a new government.

Such a move would reassure Washington, which has frozen billions in promised aid, contingent on Cairo transitioning to a civilian government that protects human rights and upholds the treaty with Israel.

Both the Brotherhood and second-place Salafist al-Nour party have advocated the imposition of Sharia law and hinted at abrogating or altering Egypt's accord with Israel. But both parties have proven pragmatic when economic matters are considered.

Egypt is desperately in need of funds as its economy spirals and the country hemorrhages cash. Cairo has burned through over half of its foreign currency reserves in the past year and has shown a net loss of $9 billion. Unless the Islamists can set the economy right they will be saddled with the nightmare of national insolvency.

In such an environment, analysts say Washington's desire for a status quo with Israel and a West-leaning government in Cairo is likely to prove decisive with the Brotherhood and al-Nour despite their public statements on talks with Israel and altering the treaty.