Egyptian Salafi party ready to sit with Israel, says spokesman
Members of Egypt’s ultra-conservative Nour Party announced that they are willing to hold talks with Israel and stressed that doing so is by no means a violation of Islamic principles.
The spokesman of the Salafi al-Nour Party, Yousri Hammad, was asked in a phone interview with the independent satellite channel al-Nas about controversial statements attributed to party chairman Emad Abdul Ghafour regarding the possibility of holding negotiations with Israel.
“We have not received an official request from Israel yet, but if we sit with Israel, it has to be through the Egyptian Foreign Ministry,” he said.
According to Israeli press reports, Tel Aviv has expressed interest in meeting with members of the Nour Party, which garnered about 25 percent of the votes in the first and second round of Egypt’s first parliamentary election after the ouster of Mubarak’s regime.
“Egypt is signatory to international treaties and these have to be respected,” added Hammad. “This is not my personal opinion or that of the party chairman. It is part of the party’s policies.”
The party’s chairman, Emad Abdul Ghafour, had earlier issued similar statements in which he focused on the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. He, however, pointed out the necessity of putting into effect several unimplemented articles in the treaty.
“Several articles need to be implemented in order to make the Palestinian people feel that they have benefited from the peace treaty. Among those is the resolution of the Palestinian issue and the Palestinian right to self-determination.”
Abdul Ghafour admitted to the possibility of revising the terms of the treaty, yet stressed that diplomatic relations with Israel would continue as long as they serve the interests of Egypt and the Arab world.
“If we become once more the powerful country we had been before, Israel will have greater respect for us and we will be able to revise the terms of the treaty.”
Abdul Ghafour explained that issuing fixed judgments regarding the relationship with Israel is quite difficult since the context in which this relationship is formulated is of extreme importance.
“Politics is in a state of constant change so circumstances have to be taken into consideration. This applies to Israel and any other country.”
Abiding by the peace treaty is not only of extreme importance to Israel, but to the United States as well. In fact, the bill submitted to the Congress stipulated imposing restrictions on American security and military aid to Egypt. According to the bill, the aid should be contingent upon the testimony of the Secretary of State before the Congress to the effect that Egypt is not violating any of the terms in the treaty with Israel.
The bill gives the Secretary of State the right to lift this condition if aid to Egypt is proven to serve the United States’ national interests. Proof of that is to be written in reports that are to be presented to both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The House of Representatives has already approved a bill that links giving 1.3 billion dollars in security aid and 250 million dollars in economic aid to two issues: first, the peace treaty signed in 1979 by Egypt and Israel and second, handing power to a civil government that protects human rights and freedom of faith and expression.
A diplomatic source in Tel Aviv stated that the new Israeli ambassador to Egypt will start communicating with Islamist officials in Egypt, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi al-Nour Party, which came in first and second place in the parliamentary election, respectively.