Call seen as support for Palestinian government
CAIRO: In a recent interview with DREAM television, supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, said that the peace agreement made by President Anwar Sadat should be cancelled. Akef called on the government to put the treaty to the people in a referendum.
The Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement was signed in 1979, and the Brotherhood said that they do not recognize the validity of the agreement. A mere two years after Sadat signed the treaty he was assassinated.
Sadat was the first Arab leader to negotiate with Israel.
In the interview, Akef specifically stated that the “Camp David agreement between the two countries should be cancelled if the Egyptian people vote against it.
According to Mohammed Habib, deputy of the Brotherhood, a treaty such as this, constructed in a time when democracy did not exist in Egypt should be re-examined.
“We support a look at what the people in this country want and if they do not want a treaty with Israel, then we must have a different solution, Habib argues. “However, if they do support the treaty then we will as well.
The likelihood of a referendum ever taking place is slim to none, says Mohammed Sayed El Said, a political analyst at the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
“Obviously, this is a confused view simply because the treaty was signed in the late 1970s, well over a quarter century . we cannot actually hold a referendum on past events, Said argues.
International treaties cannot be simply taken away by a referendum according to international law, says Said. “Just because the consequences of the treaty have not turned out the way we envisioned doesn t mean that calling a referendum is the best way to do things.
Both Habib and Said agree, however, that this is more about supporting the democratically elected Palestinian government of Hamas than ending peace between Egypt and Israel.
“We support democracy and this treaty was not signed during a time of democracy so it is necessary that it be looked at in a different angle, Habib suggests.
In the 2005 parliamentary elections, the Muslim Brotherhood won almost 20 percent of the seats. Running as independents, the Brotherhood has positioned itself as being the strongest opposition force against the ruling National Democratic Party of current President Hosni Mubarak.
Saed believes that the statements made by Akef were more a solidarity call of support for Hamas, an offshoot organization of the Brotherhood, who are facing international pressure to change long-standing policy.
“Hamas has to be supported and this might be a reason for Akef’s statements, Said says. “We owe at least support to the Palestinian people, who legitimately chose Hamas to be in power. However, like the Palestinians, Egypt needs to do a better job with public opinion.
The actual call for a referendum however can never be implemented. Said says that even if the Egyptian people were to say no to the peace treaty, Israel would have the right to invade Egypt in order to secure their border.
“They could be at the Suez in a matter of hours, which makes a referendum and cancellation of a peace treaty impossible . the government would never go for it, Said believes.