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Israel Seeks Talks With Egypt’s Islamists

Published: 18/12/2011 01:34:09 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Senior Israeli diplomats are eagerly working to open new communication channels with Egypt's Islamists, so far seen as the major winner of the (more)

CAIRO - Senior Israeli diplomats are eagerly working to open new communication channels with Egypt's Islamists, so far seen as the major winner of the country's first free elections since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak last February.

Israel's new ambassador in Cairo, Yaakov Amitai must make contact with all relevant entities in positions of power, and talk to "anyone who wants to and agrees to talk to him, even if those contacts are not made public," a senior diplomatic official in occupied Jerusalem told Haaretz on Sunday, December 18.

Taking office only six days ago, the newly appointed ambassador was charged with trying to open contact channels with Egypt's new rulers.

Those attempts include talks with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi's Al-Nour Party, according to a senior diplomatic official in Jerusalem.

The latest announcement followed a sweeping win of Islamists in the first phase of Egypt's parliamentary elections which sent shockwaves through Israel.

The Muslim Brotherhood's party gained more than 40% of the vote, while Salafists got nearly 20%.

Established in 1928 in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is the most powerful opposition force in Egypt.

The Muslim Brotherhood is hostile to the policies of Israel and its chief ally the United States in the Middle East.

It has historic links with the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas and shares its belief in armed struggle against Israel.

Though declaring their respect for international treaties, including Egypt's peace treaty with Israel, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis are expected to rule out any dialogue with the Israeli government or its emissaries.

Talks Attempts

Though the Israeli government has not attempted yet to open official contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood, attempts of dialogue were expected sooner or later.

"We should make every effort to explain that we are not the enemies of the Egyptian people or enemies of the Palestinians," the official said.

The source added that Israel must engage in dialogue with Islamic representatives in the relatively friendly Arab countries, if they agree to talk.

"The Palestinians cannot continue to hold the Arab world by the tail," he claimed.

Egypt under ousted former president Hosni Mubarak also provided Israel with 40 percent of its gas needs.

But some elements of the relationship have sagged since Mubarak's fall.

The gas pipeline has been repeatedly blown up in Sinai, the Israeli embassy in Cairo was mobbed by protesters in September and Egypt's ties with Hamas are warming.

Israel urged the United States to do more to bolster Mubarak in his final days, and resentment still lingers over the West's perceived failure not to have propped up his unpopular regime.

Over the past few months, Egypt-Israel relations were badly restrained after a cross-border attack, which left at least seven Egyptian soldiers killed.

Trying to head of a diplomatic crisis with the heavyweight Arab country, Israel apologized over the deaths of Egyptian soldiers.

Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net




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