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Egypt headed for civil war, ex-Israeli defense minister warns

Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a close friend of ousted leader Hosni Mubarak, says Morsi has already lost power

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

MK Binyamin Ben Eliezer (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
MK Binyamin Ben Eliezer (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A former Israeli defense minister with close ties to the Egyptian establishment said that the country is on the verge of a civil war and that President Mohammed Morsi can no longer save his government.

In an interview with Army Radio on Tuesday, MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) said that Egypt, where millions of protesters have demanded Morsi’s resignation, was spiraling into a war zone.

“The situation in Egypt has reached a point of no return — it is the beginning of a civil war,” said Ben-Eliezer, who is a personal friend of ousted former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.

On Monday, after demonstrators sacked the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo, opposition leaders gave Morsi 24 hours to step down, but hours later the Egyptian military issued its own ultimatum threatening to take up administration of the country if the two sides don’t settle their differences.

Morsi, backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, has remained defiant and rejected the calls upon him to resign, despite protests which have brought millions of Egyptians into the streets in scenes reminiscent of the 2011 protests that ousted Mubarak after a 30-year reign.

At least 16 people have been killed and over 800 injured during the protests, which began Sunday evening.

On Tuesday morning, Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr submitted his own resignation after five other cabinet ministers also gave up their offices.

Ahead of Egypt’s elections last year Ben-Eliezer speculated that a Muslim Brotherhood leader would threaten Israel’s 1979 peace accord with Egypt and he therefore favored the former Egyptian spy chief Omar Suleiman, who was also a candidate.

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