Representatives of different political forces and parties convening following Israel's attack on Gaza, calling on Morsi to freeze all relations (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Egypt's political forces, including the majority Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), demand the Egyptian government and president immediately move to revise the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty amid Israel's ongoing onslaught on the Gaza Strip.
They also call on the Arab League to activate the joint Arab Defence Treaty and for the Egyptian government and all Arab and Islamic governments to take immediate punitive action to stop Israel's sustained attack on Palestinians in Gaza.
After nearly five hours of discussions at the headquarters of the FJP, during a meeting dubbed "Emergency parties meeting to support Gaza," a lengthy joint statement was issued by all attendees.
The statement began by expressing condolences for the martyrs of Gaza killed in the Israeli assault that it described as a flagrant violation of international law and charters.
FJP President Mohamed Saad Al-Katatni, who headed the meeting, read the statement: “Revolutionary Egypt is no longer a strategic treasure for the enemy and is now biased to and supportive of Arab citizens everywhere, especially the Palestinians. Political parties and forces call on the Egyptian government to take concrete steps to stop the Zionist assault on the besieged Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. They welcomed President Mohamed Morsi’s decision to withdraw Egypt’s ambassador from the occupation state.”
Political forces also called on Morsi to “freeze all relations with the Zionist entity, whether diplomatic, political, economic or security, and leave the Rafah border crossing permanently open. They urge Arab and Islamic governments and international organisations to take punitive measures against the Zionist enemy to end the assault on Gaza,” according to the statement.
Al-Katatni continued: “Political parties urge President Morsi to revise all agreements with the enemy, especially the Camp David Treaty, and review it. They also call on the Arab League to activate the joint Arab Defence Treaty, noting that Palestine is a strategic depth for Egypt’s security. We also call on the Egyptian people to sustain popular pressure to lift the injustice and deliver relief and medical aid to Gaza, and stand in solidarity with its people in their ordeal and seek to end Palestinian divisions.
“The parties affirm that Egypt is on the way to recovering its political role on the regional and international stages, and urge major political parties in the Arab and Islamic world to support the resilience of the Palestinian people and condemn the assault on the Palestinian people in Gaza.”
Al-Katatni announced that a caravan including key political and public figures will head to the Gaza Strip, possibly Sunday. Responding to a question on Camp David, he said that the gathering demand that the political leadership and President Morsi in his executive capacity as president take the necessary steps to revise the terms of the agreement. “The words are very clear: the situation necessitates a revision of the agreement’s provisions,” he said point blank.
Major General Adel Al-Qalla, a military expert and president of the Egypt Socialist Party, told Ahram Online that he explained to the gathering that the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty does not restrict the Egyptian army from mobilising to defend what is beyond Egypt’s border. Al-Qalla said that during Operation Cast Lead in 2008, “the Israeli army bombed targets inside Egypt amidst unjustified silence; today, we need to do the opposite.”
He added that the treaty does not mention this issue and that the main task of the army is to safeguard national security. Al-Qalla added: “Participating parties believe we need to adopt a position of military support to Gaza.” He noted that recommendations will result in creating a follow-up committee as well as holding an international conference to support Gaza. There will also be an address at the Arab League Saturday morning.
Mohamed Al-Saeed Idris, a founding member of the Nasserist Popular Current said that Salafist parties are unwilling to cooperate with regional parties such as Iran. Idris noted that “during discussions about restoring Egypt’s regional role in light of conditions in Syria, there was a need for Egypt, Iran and Turkey to form an axis, but they rejected the idea because of ideological differences with Tehran. The Salafists would only support a text urging the Islamic world to coordinate action, without mentioning Iran.”
During discussions of future steps, Essam Sultan from Al-Wasat Party, said: “There are two tracks to keep in mind. First, the political track that is governed by international political considerations, agreements, treaties and charters; the second track is the masses, that has a higher ceiling, which is what we are working on now. We are demanding support for Gaza and this achieves many goals, including restoring Egypt’s role.
“When we pressure the regime and government to revise Camp David, this is a political goal that must be shielded by popular support. When we call for Arab unity, that is also a goal. We believe the world changes by the will of the people and we will continue putting pressure on everyone, starting with our own regime and leadership. We will also put pressure on Israel by supporting the resistance.”
The meeting was attended by a wide range of political groups, including the FJP (under chairman El-Katatni); the Salafist El-Nour Party, Asala Party, and the Fadila Party, the liberal Free Egyptians Party, the Ghad El-Thawra Party, and the 6 April Youth Movement, along with several Nasserist parties under the Popular Current umbrella and independent MPs.