July 31, 2012
Israel receives first contact from Egypt’s Morsi
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi told Israel on Tuesday he wanted to work for peace in the Middle East, in the first official message sent by the Arab state’s new Islamist leadership to the Jewish state.
Politicians in Israel had expressed alarm in private over the election of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi in June’s presidential vote and fear that over time their country’s peace treaty with Egypt could be eroded.
“I am looking forward to exerting our best efforts to get the Middle East peace process back to its right track in order to achieve security and stability for all peoples of the region, including (the) Israeli people,” Morsi said in the letter to Israeli President Shimon Peres.
A spokesman for Morsi in Cairo could not be reached for comment on the letter, written in English and released by the office of the Israeli president.
An Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity said Morsi’s letter was “a general message with a positive spirit, but did not indicate any new direction” in bilateral relations.
Egypt’s ousted President Hosni Mubarak had guaranteed the 1979 peace treaty with Israel for decades.
The Muslim Brotherhood is ideologically hostile to the Jewish state and linked to Hamas Islamists who run the Gaza Strip. Hamas refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
The presidency in Israel is a largely ceremonial post. Nobel peace-prize-winner Peres had sent Morsi two letters, his office said, one congratulating him for winning the vote and a second letter of greetings to mark the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had also sent Morsi a letter congratulating him on his electoral victory, though he has not yet received a reply.
The Middle East peace process has stalled, with U.S.-brokered negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians breaking down in 2010, with no prospects of any swift resumption of talks.
Writing by Maayan Lubell, editing by Diana Abdallah