Israel must brace itself for a deeply problematic period in its relations with Egypt, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt said Sunday afternoon, responding grimly to the election of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi as Egypt’s president.
While Israel’s political leadership issued no immediate response to the election result, and the Foreign Ministry also had no immediate comment, ex-envoy Zvi Mazel was unequivocal in expressing his concerns.
Incoming president Morsi seeks the destruction of Israel, charged Mazel, who was Israel’s ambassador to Cairo in the late 1990s. “He has said he wants to conquer Jerusalem.”
During the presidential election campaign, said Mazel in an Israel Radio interview, Morsi was deliberately vague on the issue of ongoing relations between Egypt and Israel, which signed a peace treaty in 1979. But Morsi shared platforms “with some of the most extreme” politicians, the former ambassador said.
Mazel predicted that Morsi and the Brotherhood would swiftly widen and tighten their grip on Egypt. He said the incoming president would likely reinstall the Islamist-dominated parliament that was dissolved earlier this month by Egypt’s interim military rulers. And “within six months,” he went on, Egypt’s powerful generals would be replaced by figures loyal to the Brotherhood.
The ex-ambassador said Morsi’s victory also constituted a major boost to Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls Gaza and seeks Israel’s elimination.
Mazel said that the US had placed Egypt’s military leadership in a very difficult position in recent weeks, and had seemed more interested in having the Brotherhood come to power than in heeding the concerns of the interim military leadership.
The Egyptian military’s move last week to deprive the presidency of some of its powers, notably the right to go to war, was a signal to the US and Israel of its fears about where Egypt might be heading — a signal, said Mazel, “that the US and Israel failed to read.”