25. Israel, Brotherhood in dispute over peace

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While Israel have pitched into contacts with Egypt to prepare arrangements on the return of its Ambassador to Cairo, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the biggest fundamentalist bloc in society, are demanding a revision of relations with the Jewish state in connection with the Camp David Accords.

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The fundamentalist group's demand appears to be the highlight of the outpouring of public fury towards Israel in connection with the border killing of five Egyptian solders and Tel Aviv's stubborn refusal to apologize. The attack on the Israeli Embassy late Friday night and on Saturday forced the evacuation of the Israeli ambassador and other diplomats.

"Israel must have received the message and understood that Egypt has changed, the entire region will change, and there is no room left for its arrogance and aggression," the Islamist group said in a statement quoted by AFP.

It also urged the Egyptian government to "revise relations" between Egypt and Israel which have been bound by a peace treaty since 1979.

The Muslim Brotherhood was banned under the three-decade rule of former president Hosni Mubarak but has since the revolution, which ousted him in February, formed the "Freedom and Justice Party".

The party did not, however, call for the scrapping of the peace treaty - the first between Israel and an Arab country.

Despite the unfavorable attitude in Egypt towards peace accord with Israel, a statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quoted him yesterday as voicing confidence in Egypt's commitment to peace with his country after the ransacking of the Israeli embassy in Giza shook the shifting foundations of a brittle relationship with its key Muslim ally.

The Embassy crisis between Cairo and Tel Aviv took place just a week after Ankara expelled Israel's envoy in a dispute over a 2010 Israeli raid on a Gaza aid flotilla that killed 9 Turks.

The crisis - which saw nine staff rescued by commandos and protesters grabbing documents from the mission - was the worst since Israel established its mission in Egypt after the 1979 peace treaty.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Gazette's airport correspondent Adel Moustafa reported that an Israeli envoy arrived yesterday in Cairo from Tel Aviv on a several-hour visit to discuss the aftermath of the storming of the Israeli embassy. A reliable source in Cairo Airport, who preferred to be anonymous, said that the Israeli envoy, who arrived onboard a military plane would explore arrangements on the return of the Israeli Ambassador to Egypt.

Netanyahu, echoing remarks he made on Saturday, told his Cabinet that Israel was in contact with Egyptian authorities about returning the Israeli Ambassador to Cairo and the security arrangements necessary to protect him and his staff.

"Those who rip down flags ... they are negating peace and the country," Netanyahu said in public comments at the session.

"I am glad there are other forces in Egypt, including the Egyptian government, that are interested in advancing peace."

"We will stick to it," Netanyahu said, referring to the accord, the first signed between an Arab country and Israel.

According to the Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post, Tel Aviv is willing to move its Embassy in Giza to a new safer seat.

On the other hand, the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Giza led the Information Minister Osama Heikal to pledge the implementation of "all articles" of an emergency law in force for 30 years that provided greater power to the judiciary and police, to provide the peace.

He said the military council ruling Egypt since Mubarak's ouster also decided that "security forces will have to recourse to all necessary measures, including the right to legitimate self-defense, to preserve the security of the homeland".

"Exceptional circumstances demand decisive judicial measures," Heikal said after a meeting of the military council, and described the unrest as an "attack on Egypt's image".

But the Islamists denounced the new security measures and warned the military rules against using security as a pretext to delay parliamentary elections.

[Reviewer's note: a similar story was covered in al-Hayah, September 12, 2011, p.4.]

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