Mon, Feb 07, 2011 | The Rubin Report | By Barry Rubin
ElBaradei: Israel Has No Peace Treaty with Egyptians
After the U.S. president [Obama] repeatedly called for Mubarak’s instant departure someone in Washington actually read Egypt’s constitution and discovered that if he steps down right now there must be elections within 60 days. Maybe the idea that Mubarak will step down in September after new elections — giving time for organizing parties — might not be a bad idea.
Here are some interesting things to think about:
— The United States is guarantor of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty. If Egypt either formally abrogates the treaty or merely does so in practice, how would the United States respond, given the much higher degree of threat faced by Israel?
— The United States gives almost $2 billion a year in aid to Egypt. Will the United States now fund classrooms, for example, which teach that America is the enemy of Muslims, Arabs, and Egyptians? That Jews are evil and inferior? That every Egyptian Muslim has the duty of engaging in jihad?
— The United States provides Egypt advanced military equipment. Will it continue to do so if Egypt is once again an enemy of Israel, and supplies weapons to Hamas.
And if those issues seem distant, here is Muhammad ElBaradei, the apparent U.S. candidate for president of Egypt, renouncing the peace treaty in an interview with Der Spiegel:
SPIEGEL: Are you now saying that a government that included participation by the Muslim Brotherhood would continue on with Mubarak’s policies toward Israel?
ElBaradei: No. Something the Israelis also need to grasp is that it’s impossible to make peace with a single man [Mubarak]. At the moment, they have a peace treaty with Mubarak, but not one with the Egyptian people. The Israelis should understand that it is in their long-term interest to have a democratic Egypt as a neighbor, and that it is prudent to acknowledge the legitimate interests of the Palestinians and to grant them their own state.”
SPIEGEL: What should a new president change about Egypt’s relationship with Israel? Would you go to Israel to meet with Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s hard-line prime minister?
ElBaradei: I have already made earlier trips to Israel. But, when it comes to politics, I’m always much more concerned with the substance than the form. Of course conditions have to be made better for the people in the Gaza Strip, and the blockade needs to be lifted immediately.
He has just said that there is no binding peace treaty and if the agreement is with a single man, when that man leaves office there is no agreement. He doesn’t have to abrogate the treaty because he says that it doesn’t exist at all. I can only assume that U.S. diplomats have not been instructed to tell ElBaradei that if he doesn’t change his view something bad will happen to his political ambitions.
You know, please forgive me if I put this in a really big font and put it in bold so it sears itself onto that screen behind your foreheads. It will make me feel better. Thanks:
U.S. POLICY IS PUSHING INTO POWER A MAN SAYING THE ISRAEL-EGYPT PEACE TREATY ISN’T VALID AND REJECTING SANCTIONS ON HAMAS’S REGIME IN THE GAZA STRIP.
Might this be a problem?
As an historian I feel obligated to say that the treaty actually was not made with Mubarak but his predecessor, Anwar al-Sadat, which shows that neither the passage of decades nor the acceptance of the deal by two Egyptian presidents has any effect on institutionalizing or legitimizing it.
It seems that whenever Israel makes an agreement, gives up territory, and takes risks, the other side finds some reason—once it has swallowed the concessions—to say that the deal doesn’t count.
Can you imagine Israel agreeing to a Palestinian state and yielding more territory with the prospect of being told after some years that the treaty was only an agreement with a single man, Mahmoud Abbas?