Morsi Adviser Says Amending Peace Treaty with Israel Just “A Matter of Time”

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi (AP photo)

An adviser to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi said Thursday that amending his country’s peace treaty with Israel is just “a matter of time” so that Egypt can have full control of the Sinai Peninsula. Under the 1979 Camp David Accords, the Sinai was to remain mostly demilitarized to provide a strategic buffer for Israel.

Egypt Independent, which translated the story from the Arabic press, did not provide the entire sentence in which the adviser said “a matter of time,” but did offer additional quotes. It reports:

Mohamed Essmat Seif al-Dawla, who has been publicly advocating the move, told Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jareeda in an interview published on Wednesday, “There is no reason for keeping a treaty unchanged for three decades.”

He added that the 1979 accord “preserves Israel’s national security more than Egypt’s, which constitutes a blatant violation of Egyptian sovereignty,” and that it would not endure under Egypt’s new leaders.

Egypt Independent describes Dawla as a member of Kefaya, the movement for change that protested against former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The paper reports that his father was an opponent of President Anwar Sadat, who was gunned down in 1981 by radical Islamist army officers for signing the peace treaty with Israel. According to the Egyptian news agency MENA, he is also a member of an anti-Zionist group. Dawla said:

“While Israel has only three kilometers of limited armament zones within its soils, known as Zone D, Egypt has A, B, and C zones in the Sinai Peninsula with different degrees of armament,” he said.

Dawla said the agreement means Egypt is deprived of control over large areas that have turned into a hotbed for criminal activity and “espionage networks.”

This is not the first time a senior official publicly derided the treaty which has been in effect for 33 years. In August, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) translated Muslim Brotherhood Adviser Ahmad Sabi’ saying the peace treaty had brought cancer, hepatitis and kidney infections from Israel, which he referred to only as the “Zionist entity.” He said:

[I support] amending the [Camp David] agreement, which is a mark of shame upon the Egyptian people. This agreement has been a heavy burden upon the Egyptian people, undermining Egypt’s sovereignty. It has even undermined projects for the development of the Sinai. Therefore, it is an unjust and unfair agreement, which has isolated Egypt from its Arab and Islamic environs, and from the pan-Arab effort to liberate the land of Palestine and to support Palestinian resistance. [...]

In addition, carcinogenic pesticides were imported from the Zionist entity, and Egyptian agriculture was made available to the Zionist entity. This led to the destruction of various sectors in Egypt. Egypt now suffers from endemic diseases, such as various types of cancer, hepatitis, and kidney infections. All these and other diseases are the result of the carcinogenic pesticides, which were brought here along with that agreement.

Last month, Morsi’s adviser Dawla also expressed similar reservations about the continuation of the peace treaty. Israel Radio cited Egyptian media which quoted Dawla saying the peace treaty was tying Egypt’s hands in its fight against militants operating in the Sinai. Last month, 16 Egyptian border guards stationed in the Sinai were killed by terrorists believed to be trying to enter Israel.

As for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president himself, Morsi said in his first interview with the Western press after taking office that Egypt would respect all treaties – even if he never mentioned Israel by name. At the end of August, he said of the military campaign to root out Islamist terrorists from the Sinai:

“Egypt is practising its very normal role on its soil and does not threaten anyone and there should not be any kind of international or regional concerns at all from the presence of Egyptian security forces,” Mr Morsi told the Reuters news agency.

He said the campaign was “in full respect of international peace treaties”.

After the Camp David Accords were signed, the U.S. began providing military aid to Egypt as an incentive the Middle Eastern nation would continue honoring its commitment. That aid stands now at $1.3 billion per year. If adviser Dawla is hinting at a future change in policy, the question remains if the Obama administration will amend its foreign aid allocations.