Egyptians want to end deal with Israel

Egyptians burn the Israeli flag and wave the Palestinian one during a demonstration in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo on April 25, 2011, calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and opening of the border with Gaza.
An opinion poll has shown that an overwhelming majority of Egyptians prefer that the country terminate a standing peace agreement with Israel.

The results of the poll, which was conducted by the United States-based Pew Research Center, came out on Monday, pointing to a 54% lean towards the scrapping of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, the Associated Press reported. The poll surveyed 1,000 Egyptians countrywide between March 24 and April 7.

The 1979 deal saw Israeli troops withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula — the part of the Egyptian territory, which Israel had occupied in 1967.

It, however, enabled the stationing of Egyptian security forces there, who would closely cooperate with Tel Aviv’s crippling siege of the Gaza Strip. Using the forces, Cairo would keep the country’s Rafah border crossing with Gaza — the sliver’s only terminal that bypasses Israel — closed.

The Egyptians launched a revolution against the previous pro-Israeli regime in January, putting an end to the 30-year-long rule of President Hosni Mubarak.

During the protests, Tel Aviv allowed Cairo to deploy Egyptian troops to the peninsula, despite it only being open to Egypt’s police forces in line with the bilateral accord.

After the revolution, the Egyptian protesters rallied outside the Israeli embassy in the capital, setting fire to the Israeli flag and urging the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador Yitzhak Levanon.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that the new Egyptian government could become hostile towards Tel Aviv. He has said he is “especially concerned” over remarks made by Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi, who, along with other senior officials, has reportedly called Tel Aviv, Egypt’s “enemy.”

Egypt’s Finance Minister Samir Radwan has also stressed that Cairo does not need investments from “the enemy,” commenting on the possibility of economic ties with Tel Aviv.

The recent survey also showed that only 15% of the respondents favored closer relations with the US — Israel’s oldest and strongest ally — as opposed to 43%, who thought the two countries could use some distance.

The bilateral peace accord forms a central part of Washington’s regional policy.

( / 27.04.2011)

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