|Former US president who helped broker Israel-Egypt peace says he has had long discussions with senior Muslim Brotherhood figures and believes Islamist party may seek to modify, but will not destroy peace treaty.
CAIRO – The Muslim Brotherhood may seek to modify, but will not destroy, Egypt’s 33-year-old peace treaty with Israel, former US president Jimmy Carter said on Saturday.
Carter, 87, was speaking after initial vote tallies put the Brotherhood’s candidate ahead in the first round of Egypt’s presidential election, which his Carter Center helped monitor.
The US statesman, who brought together Israeli leader Menachem Begin and Egypt’s Anwar Sadat in 1978 to agree the Camp David accords which led to a 1979 treaty, said he had held long discussions with senior Brotherhood figures in Egypt this week.
“My opinion is that the treaty will not be modified in any unilateral way,” Carter said at a news conference in Cairo to present the preliminary findings of his election monitors.
Official results in Egypt’s first free leadership election are due on Tuesday, but informal tallies put the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi and Mubarak’s last Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq in the lead. If confirmed, they would fight a run-off in June.
The peace treaty remains a lynchpin of US/Middle East policy and, despite its unpopularity with many Egyptians, was staunchly upheld by former president Hosni Mubarak until his overthrow last year in a popular uprising.
The Brotherhood, long suppressed under Mubarak, is vehemently critical of Israel, and its Palestinian offshoot Hamas rules the Gaza Strip. Israeli officials have watched political turmoil since Mubarak’s overthrow with growing wariness.
The Camp David accords were also supposed to guarantee the rights of the Palestinians, at Sadat’s insistence, but that aspect had not been honored, Carter said.
Jimmy Carter’s soul brothers, “The Brotherhood”, which already dominates parliament hopes the presidency can seal its rise to power.
“Egypt is going through a truly historic transformation,” senior Brotherhood figure Essam el-Erian said. “We hope the runoff is more heated, more clear and more representative of the spirit of the January 25 revolution.”