In a statement issued Thursday, Egypt’s Salafist Nour Party denied recent reports in the Israeli press that party members had met with Israeli officials and assured them that the Islamist party would respect Egypt’s Camp David peace treaty with the Zionist state.
The statement follows a 20 December report in Israeli daily Haaretz that claimed that the ultraconservative Islamist party had “announced for the first time that it intends to respect all treaties that Egypt has signed, including the peace deal with Israel." The newspaper added that the Nour Party, which won some 30 per cent of the vote in the first round of Egypt’s first post-Mubarak parliamentary polls last month, was "also in favour of negotiating with Israel.”
In Thursday’s statement, Nour Party spokesman Nader Bakkar stressed that party members had “not met the Israeli ambassador or any other Israeli official and had no plans to do so.” He added that the party's position on the self-proclaimed Jewish state was “very clear.”
"It seems that Israel has begun to understand that, following elections, Islamists will account for a major part of Egypt’s next parliament and therefore want to begin dialogue with them,” Bakkar added.
On Wednesday, Israeli news outlets claimed that Nour Party spokesman Yusri Hammad had said, in an interview with Israeli Army Radio, that the Salafist party would respect the 32-year-old peace treaty with Israel. Hammad, however, later said he had been "ambushed" by the Israeli reporter that conducted the interview, who, says Hammad, had introduced himself as an Iraqi journalist.
The interview had prompted surprise in Israel – and outrage in Egypt – that a member of Egypt’s hard-line Salafist movement would grant an interview to an Israeli media outlet, especially one associated with the military.