Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman expressed hopes Tuesday that new Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi would visit Israel and meet with President Shimon Peres and other officials.
The invitation came hours after Morsi told the Reuters news agency he would honor the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel and pursue a balanced foreign policy. He said Egypt would “never initiate a war.”
Liberman praised the Egyptian president’s commitment to the Camp David Accords and pursuit of a balanced foreign policy. Speaking at a Bar Association meeting in Tel Aviv, Liberman said he was also glad to hear Morsi is committed to fighting terrorism.
Citing the countries’ economic and military ties, he said the Egyptian leader’s commitment to international agreements was reassuring, adding that Israel is dependent on peace and stability in the region.
He stressed that Morsi’s statements were “very important” and “encouraging” — but said that peace and stability “is not something abstract or hypothetical.”
“Peace is not static.. It has tangible expressions,” he added, urging the Egyptian leader to come to Israel for an official visit if he is “serious” about peace. “We want to see him in Jerusalem as President Peres’s official guest.” He also called on Morsi to meet with other officials and members of the Israeli press.
Israel has raised fears recently that its relationship with Egypt may change in the wake of the election of Morsi, who hails from the hard-line Muslim Brotherhood. The installation of tanks and troops in the Sinai as part of an anti-terror campaign earlier this month also raised jitters in Jerusalem, though Defense Minister Ehud Barak reportedly came to an agreement on the matter with Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi soon after.
In Monday’s Reuters’ interview, Morsi said: “Egypt is now a civilian state … a national, democratic, constitutional, modern state,” and without mentioning Israel by name, he said the country has nothing to fear from Egypt’s new military campaign in the Sinai Peninsula.
Egypt has placed troops in Sinai in the aftermath of the August 5 border attack in which terrorists killed 16 Egyptian soldiers before crossing into Israeli territory, where their vehicles were blown up by the Israel Air Force. Egypt’s subsequent crackdown on Sinai terror targets involved the most significant military deployment in the peninsula since the signing of the Camp David Accords in 1979 by Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin.
“Egypt is practicing 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,” Morsi said, referring to the Egyptian army and security forces’ movement into the peninsula.
The military campaign was being conducted in “full respect to international treaties,” he said, referring to the 1979 accord.
Morsi came to power after the ouster of former strongman Hosni Mubarak. He is the first democratically elected president in Egypt — the first country in the Arab world to make peace with Israel.
Sadat made a historic visit to Israel in 1977, paving the way for the peace agreement. Mubarak visited Israel only once, in 1995, for the funeral of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.