Jerusalem, May 11 — The two leading contenders for the Egyptian presidency appear to be vying for the title of who is more hostile to Israel.
During a four-hour televised debate on Thursday, former Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa and former Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh both called Israel an enemy state and vowed, if elected, to revisit the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty. Moussa said in a recent public appearance that the Camp David agreement was “dead and buried.”
The two countries in March marked 33 years since Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat shook hands and signed a peace agreement on the White House lawn. Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace agreement with Israel. The only other Arab country to do so was Jordan, in 1995.
Elections are scheduled to take place May 23-24. There are 11 other candidates competing to succeed Hosni Mubarak, the ousted leader whose reign lasted almost 30 years. The 84-year-old is scheduled to be sentenced next month on charges of complicity in the killing of hundreds of protesters during the popular uprising that resulted in his overthrow in February 2011.
In the interim, the Sinai Peninsula between the two countries and ruled by Egypt, has increasingly turned into a lawless area rampant with Islamist terror groups, smuggling, white slavers and border infiltrators. The area shares a 150-mile border with Israel. In an attack last summer, Gaza-based terror groups perpetrated an attack from the Sinai, killing at least eight Israelis.
Israel handed control of the Sinai over to Egypt in 1979 as part of the peace deal between the two countries. Israel captured the Sinai during the 1967 defensive war in which Arab enemy armies amassed on Israel’s borders to attack the country.
Egypt also has been an important ally for Israel in thwarting smuggling and rocket assaults from Gaza. This year alone, terrorists in Gaza have fired 352 rockets, mortars and missiles at Israel.