Sadat and Begin
Sadat and BeginIsrael news photo: Gefen Publishing

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood denied on Saturday that it plans to uphold the peace treaty that was signed between Israel and Egypt in 1979, Channel 10 News reported.

According to the report, the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, which won the recent elections in Egypt, told Arab media that the final decision on the matter is in the hands of the Egyptian people.

The denial comes after U.S. State Department Victora Nuland told reporters on Thursday that the 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.

However, the deputy head of the Freedom and Justice Party, Essam Arian, has reportedly told the London-based Arab newspapers Al-Hayat and Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that the movement did not give any guarantees regarding the peace treaty with Israel.

“No one in Egypt can promise anything on behalf of the entire nation,” Channel 10 quoted Arian as having told Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. “The meaning of a democracy is that the agreements are under the responsibility of the people and state institutions, and not one party or another.”

Subhi Saleh, a prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was quoted as having said that the movement’s position regarding the peace treaty with Israel has not changed and it would not recognize Israel. However, he stressed, “Even if the party gets elected to senior positions in the government and the presidency, we will not impose our views on the state. The Muslim Brotherhood will honor all agreements but no agreements are sacred and any signed agreement can be reconsidered.”

The remarks echo similar ones made last week by Rashad Bayoumi, deputy Supreme Leader of the Brotherhood. Bayoumi told the London-based newspaper Al-Hayat the Brotherhood respects international treaties and will leave the issue of the peace treaty in the hands of the people.

“People will express their opinions on it,” he said. “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.”

Earlier this week it was reported that Israel will attempt to pursue a dialogue with Islamic factions in Egypt.

The initiative, proposed by former Ambassador to Egypt Yitzhak Levanon, was previously rejected by the Foreign Ministry. However, the Islamists' strong showing in Egypt's elections has apparently forced senior officials to reconsider.