Israel did not order its ambassador in Cairo to launch dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) despite recent reports to the contrary in the Israeli press, according to a statement issued Wednesday by an Israeli foreign ministry official.
Speaking to Israeli Radio, the official stated that the self-proclaimed Jewish state was “not interfering in events in Egypt” and was “waiting until the new regime in Egypt is better understood.”
Earlier this week, Israeli Hebrew-language daily Maariv reported that Israel’s foreign affairs ministry had instructed its ambassador to Egypt, Yaakov Amitai, to begin holding dialogue with the FJP in light of the latter’s startling electoral successes in the first two rounds of Egypt’s first post-Mubarak parliamentary polls.
The newspaper went on to state that, following the ouster last year of longstanding Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, former Israeli ambassador to Egypt Yitzchak Levanon had requested the foreign ministry’s permission to open channels of communication with the Muslim Brotherhood. The ministry, however, rejected Levanon’s request, Maariv noted.
Rumours have circulated in recent weeks and months that the FJP was in secret talks with US officials about the future of the Egypt-Israel relationship. The party, however, which managed to secure more than 48 per cent of the seats in parliament in the first two of three rounds of parliamentary polling (with the third and final round taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday), has strenuously denied the assertions.
FJP officials have repeatedly stressed the party’s intention to respect “all international conventions and treaties to which Egypt is signatory,” including the controversial Camp David peace agreement with Israel.
The ultraconservative Salafist Nour Party, meanwhile, which has so far secured some 30 percent of the seats in parliament, has also declared its intention to respect the 33-year-old peace treaty, but qualified this by saying that “unjust articles” contained in the agreement could be subject to amendment.
On 22 December, 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.” Bakkar's statements came in the wake of a 20 December report in Israeli daily Haaretz claiming that the Nour Party was “in favour of opening negotiations with Israel.”