Top Egyptian presidential hopeful calls peace treaty 'dead and buried'

Egyptian presidential candidate Amr Moussa says the Israel-Egypt peace treaty is "dead and buried." (Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—Hosni Mubarak’s foreign minister, Amr Moussa, the leading candidate in Egypt’s presidential race, told a mass election rally on Sunday that Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel is “dead and buried.”

Moussa, who was never known for his friendliness toward Israel, said “the Camp David Accords are a historical document whose place is on the shelves of history, as its articles talk about the fact that the aim of the agreement is to establish an independent Palestinian state.”

Moussa seemed to differentiate between the accords and the treaty, saying there is “no such thing” as the Camp David agreement.

“This agreement is dead and buried,” he insisted. “There is an agreement between Israel and Egypt that we will honor as long as Israel honors it. The Jewish document that defines relations between Israel and the Arabs is an Arab initiative from 2002 whose advancement should be bilateral: step for step, progress for progress.”

The Camp David Accords include articles referring to Palestinian autonomy and are separate from the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. However, the Egyptian public tends to see them as a whole. Moussa’s condemnation of both continues a thread he began on a campaign trip to western Egypt two weeks ago.

Then Moussa described the agreement as “ink on paper whose period of authority is over,” without differentiating between the articles that deal with the Palestinians and those that deal with peace with Israel. It is interesting to note that the secular Moussa is coming out against the treaty, while Islamist leaders are talking up their commitment to the Camp David Accords.

The fundamentalist Salafi Al-Nour Party, for example, announced in December that it is not opposed to the Camp David Accords and is ready to negotiate with Israel. Even the Muslim Brotherhood movement has emphasized its commitment to the Camp David Accords publicly and to the US administration.

Moussa, 76, was the deposed Mubarak’s foreign minister for 10 years and devoted much effort to promoting Palestinian issues. It is understood that his bad mouthing of the peace treaty with Israel is related to his election campaign and his desire to distance himself from the hated Mubarak regime.

On Monday, Moussa, also a former Arab League chief, kicked off his campaign with a visit to the Christian Monastery of the Archangel in the Upper Egypt town of Qena. The campaign stop was apparently chosen in an attempt to win the hearts of Egypt’s 10 million Coptic Christians, who fear what the election of an Islamist-controlled government would mean for their dwindling religious and civil rights.