The Muslim Brotherhood will never recognize Israel and will even work to amend the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, the group's second-in-command, Dr. Rashad Bayumi, told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper on Sunday.
The statements come in sharp contrast to recent reports in Arab media, quoting senior figures on the Muslim Brotherhood's parliamentary list, under the Freedom and Justice party, saying the party would not act to cancel Egypt's peace treaty with Israel even if it achieves an overwhelming majority, as is predicted ahead of the third and final round of Egyptian parliamentary elections.
"A kind of atmosphere has arisen here in which anyone whom the people choose to lead Egypt must recognize the existence of Israel - but the Muslim Brotherhood will never recognize a hostile entity, whatever the terms of Egyptian rule may be," Bayumi told Al-Hayat, adding that "No Muslim Brotherhood members will engage in any contact or normalization with Israel."
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Commenting on the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, Bayumi said, "At this stage, we respect all international agreements, but [the peace treaty] is not an agreement which we are committed to and in the future, the Egyptian people will demand that a decision be made over it. For the time being, we've decided that we will take the legal steps necessary to introduce changes into the peace agreement which was signed with the Zionist enemy."
Bayumi's comments are not the first time Egyptian officials have expressed contradicting views on relations with Israel.
Just last month, the spokesman of Egypt's ultraconservative Islamist party told Israeli Army Radio in unprecedented remarks that the group is not opposed to the country's historic peace treaty with Israel.
"We are not opposed to the agreement, and we are saying that Egypt is committed to the agreements that previous Egyptian governments have signed," Yousseri Hamad said, noting that if Egyptians want changes to the treaty, "the place for that is the negotiation table."
Hamad's interview with the Israeli broadcaster was unusual for followers of the Salafi Islamic trend, who typically shun Israel for its policies toward Palestinians and its annexation of east Jerusalem. Salafi Muslims follow a strict interpretation of Islam similar to that practiced in Saudi Arabia.
However, a few months prior to Hamad's remarks, former Egyptian interim Prime Minister Essam Sharaf told Turkish television that, “the Camp David Accord is 'not sacred' and can always be revisited to allow for a more just peace.”
Noting that Egypt may seek to amend the peace treaty in light of changing realities affecting its parties and the region, Sharaf said, “The accord's future depends on the benefits it yields for the region.”
The peace agreement defines that area of Sinai along Israel's border as a demilitarized zone, allowing only for Egyptian border guards, not troops. However, Israel has accepted temporary entry of several thousand Egyptian troops into Sinai to counter a surge of extremist Islamic activity there, including some violence, since the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February.
Relations between Israel and Egypt soured after one of the incidents, when Israeli forces killed six Egyptian soldiers while pursuing Palestinian militants who killed eight Israelis during a multi-pronged terror attack in August. Egyptian protesters later tore down a security wall around the building housing the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, storming it and trashing one of its offices.
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