Morsi reportedly mulls amending peace treaty with Israel

Egypt president may move to extend full sovereignty over Sinai in wake of attack on border police, his adviser says

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi (photo credit: AP/Maya Alleruzzo)
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi (photo credit: AP/Maya Alleruzzo)

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is considering amending the Camp David Accords to expand Egypt’s control over the Sinai, Egyptian media reported Monday

Morsi legal adviser Mohamed Gadallah told newspaper al Masry al Youm that Morsi was looking into the possibility of changing the accord to give Egypt full sovereignty and control of the entire peninsula.

Currently, Egypt is only allowed to keep a small force in much of the territory, as per the 1979 peace treaty with Israel. Last week, Cairo deployed heavy artillery and missiles for the first time to hunt down terrorists following a deadly attack on its border police in the border town of Rafah.

Israel, which has suffered several attacks from the largely lawless Sinai peninsula, did not protest the movement of troops in the semi-demilitarized buffer zone.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved Egypt’s initial use of air power in the Sinai, for the first time since the 1973 war, as Morsi ordered a crackdown on terror bases in the peninsula. Israeli ministers then gave telephone approval for the temporary maintenance of assault helicopters in the Sinai as the crackdown continued.

Calls to review the terms of the peace treaty have ramped up since a popular revolution overthrew former president Hosni Mubarak last year, and especially since the attack last Sunday in which 16 Egyptian troops were killed.

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.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said he hoped Morsi would continue to work with Israel and keep to the peace deal, despite the shake-up.

An amendment to the treaty would require negotiation with Israel, which would likely be wary of an increased Egyptian military presence in territory it relinquished as part of the 1979 peace agreement. Unilateral changes to Egypt’s military deployment could jeopardize the peace treaty and the fragile ties between the two countries, which have long been awkward and which were placed under further strain by the election of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Morsi to the presidency.


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