Reports from Cairo this week — suggesting that President Mohammed Morsi wants to amend the Israel-Egypt peace treaty to enable Egypt to exercise full sovereignty in the Sinai, rather than maintain the limited military deployment stipulated in the treaty — reflect a dissatisfaction with the constraints of the accord that has been bubbling in Egypt for years, Israeli analyst Ehud Yaari said on Tuesday.
Morsi’s legal adviser Mohamed Gadallah told newspaper al Masry al Youm on Monday that Morsi was looking into the possibility of changing the accord, to give Egypt full sovereignty and control of the entire peninsula — something Israel would oppose.
Coupled with Morsi’s unexpected ouster of much of Egypt’s military leadership in recent days, cementing the Muslim Brotherhood’s control of the country, the reports have prompted concern in Jerusalem.
But Yaari said he did not anticipate any dramatic unilateral Egyptian effort to undermine the treaty, and he noted that a mechanism built into the 1979 military annex provides for amendments to the framework of Egypt’s military deployment, coordinated by the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) who are deployed there.
It was via the MFO that Egypt coordinated with Israel to deploy additional troops, tanks and air power to crack down on terror targets after the August 5 border attack in which 16 Egyptian troops were killed.
The MFO’s stated mission is “to supervise the implementation of the security provisions of the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty of Peace and employ best efforts to prevent any violation of its terms.” It operates checkpoints, reconnaissance patrols, and observation posts along the international boundary and in other areas, and checks that the accord is being honored.
If Egypt does seek amendments to the accord, said Yaari, “Israel should have its answer ready” — that there is a mechanism for negotiating change, via the MFO.
Calls to review the terms of the peace treaty have ramped up since former president Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year, and especially since the August 5 attack.
Last week, former presidential contender Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh called on Twitter for the president to consider changing the treaty’s terms.
“The blood that has been spilled should force Egypt to assume full control of Sinai without the restrictions and obligations stipulated by this inequitable treaty that prevents Egypt’s armed forces from deploying on Egyptian territory,” he wrote.
Amr Moussa, a former Arab League chief and presidential also-ran, also called for the accord to be amended.
Morsi, an Islamist from the hard-line Muslim Brotherhood group, has said he will honor international treaties.