Jerusalem, Nov. 21 – Increasing signs that Egypt’s radical Muslim Brotherhood will perform well in next week’s national elections are leading to concerns over the future of the country’s peace treaty with Israel. That deal is one of the pillar stones of regional stability.
Israel is a major market for Egypt and Israeli companies employ thousands of Egyptians.
Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, signed a peace deal with Israel in 1979. The agreement has been a bulwark of stability in the region and Egypt has been a major interlocutor in helping with Israeli-Palestinian issues.
Israel is concerned that the Muslim Brotherhood’s eminence in Egyptian politics may mean a turning back on the countries’ peaceful ties. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted earlier this year that "the long-standing peace treaty between Israel and Egypt has greatly contributed to both countries and is the cornerstone for peace and stability in the entire Middle East."
Twenty-two people were killed and scores wounded in the violence in Cairo’s Tahrir Square over the past two days.
Islamist groups, who are better organized than Egypt's liberals, are expected to fare particularly well in the elections that begin November 28, the Huffington Post reported. There is concern that the radical Muslim Brotherhood movement may emerge at the head of the 590 lists vying for power.
Despite vague statements to the press by Muslim Brotherhood leaders that they would respect the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, some of the organization’s officials emphasized that the Brotherhood does not recognize Israel and went as far to say “the people should be prepared for war against Israel.”
The Muslim Brotherhood also has close ties with the Iran-backed Hamas that controls Gaza, and supports Hamas despite it being recognized as a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States. The brotherhood’s embrace of Hamas also includes Hamas’ official policy of rejecting peace negotiations.
The complex elections for Egypt’s bicameral parliament are scheduled to take place over the next four months - with 50 million eligible voters casting ballots in three rounds of voting for both the 508-member People’s Assembly and 270-seat Shura Council.