Egypt’s Islamist president, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi, is willing to meet with a high-ranking Israeli and would like it to be President Shimon Peres, a senior Egyptian official reportedly said.
According to a report in Israel Hayom on Sunday, the official said that, despite reports that the Muslim Brotherhood had decided against holding meetings with high-ranking Israelis until after a settlement is reached by Israel with the Palestinians on statehood, Morsi would agree to a meeting before then and mentioned Peres as his preferred partner.
If such a meeting were to take place, the unnamed official said, it would be held in Washington, DC shortly after the US elections, and the leaders would try to warm relations between the two countries, which have deteriorated since the ousting of president Hosni Mubarak and the assault on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo last year.
The official, who accompanied the Egyptian president to last week’s UN General Assembly meeting in New York, said that Morsi’s statement during his Wednesday address to the assembly, in which he said he would honor all of Egypt’s international obligations, reflected efforts by the US to bring Egypt and Israel closer together.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Morsi on Monday and called on Egypt to deepen its interactions with Israel.
In his speech, Morsi said that the first priority for the world body should be ensuring the rights of the Palestinian people.
“The fruits of dignity and freedom must not remain far from the Palestinian people,” he said, adding that it was “shameful” that UN resolutions on the issue were not enforced.
He decried Israel’s continued building of settlements on territory that the Palestinians claim for a future state in the West Bank.
In July, Peres’s office said it received a friendly letter from Morsi in which the new Egyptian leader said his country was committed to regional security and stability, including for the Israeli people. After Israeli media reports about the missive, a spokesman for Morsi denied any correspondence had been sent to Peres. Some analysts saw Morsi’s overture to his Israeli counterpart as an “encouraging sign” that the new president was acting in accordance with diplomatic protocol, and worried that Israel embarrassed him by publicizing the letter.
Four weeks ago, in another encouraging move, Egypt named a new ambassador to Israel, filling a post that had been vacant for a year.