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Israeli Leaders Send Congratulatory Letters to New Egyptian President


Shimon Peres used the word "peace" six times in his brief letter

(The Blaze/AP) -- Israel's president and prime minister have sent separate letters to Egypt's new Islamist president, congratulating him on his election victory and calling for continued peace between the neighboring countries, Israeli officials said Sunday.

Israelis have grown jittery over the country's future relations with Egypt since last year's ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak.  The election of Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood has only deepened those concerns, particularly because of his seemingly deep sympathy with the country's hardline Salafists.

(Related: 'The Koran Is Our Constitution': Egyptian President Promises to Ignore the Constitution for the Sake of Shariah in Chilling Speech)

Morsi took office Saturday, saying in his speech: "“Everybody is hearing me now. The government … the military and the police. … No power above this power.”

Israel's high-profile outreach reflected the importance Israel places on its peace treaty with Egypt. The 1979 agreement, Israel's first with an Arab country, has been a cornerstone of Israeli security policy for three decades, allowing the military to focus on more volatile fronts with Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian territories.

The letters from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres were Israel's first official communications with Morsi since his election.

An official in Netanyahu's office confirmed that the letter emphasized the importance of maintaining the peace treaty, though Netanyahu did not release the text of his letter.

Peres, a 1994 Nobel Peace laureate, wrote in his: "Peace has saved the lives of countless young people in Egypt and in Israel."  He used the word "peace" six times in the brief letter, according to the Hebrew version released by his office, and the letter that was delivered to Morsi was in Arabic.

Morsi has pledged to respect all of Egypt's international accords, but the Brotherhood has said adjustments to the Israel-Egypt accord may be needed.  They have also called Israeli leaders "vampires" and "killers."

"All of us here in Israel have great respect for Egypt and for the Egyptian people for serving as pioneers and leading the route to peace and reconciliation in the region," Peres wrote to Morsi, according to CNN.

"Here in Israel, we congratulate you for holding democratic elections and wish Egypt under your presidency success in managing the complex challenges facing the Egyptian nation."

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