Brotherhood: We did not promise to honor Israel peace treaty
Egyptian Islamist movement denies US State Department claim it had promised to honor 1979 peace deal. 'No one has the right to speak for Egyptian people,' party official says
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters on Thursday that the Islamist movement, the clear victor in the first round of elections for the Egyptian Parliament, pledged to honor the various treaties signed by previous Cairo governments, including the peace deal with Israel.
Nuland insisted that the various political parties in Egypt have offered the US "good guarantees" that the peace treaty will be observed. She stressed that Washington fully expects all of Cairo's political factions to honor the previous regime's international agreements.
According to Essam al-Erian, deputy head of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party, the accords "are under the responsibility of the people and state institutions, and it would not be right for anyone to speak on behalf of the Egyptian people."
Speaking to the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat, al-Erian said, "We are not in a position to give assurances."
Rashad al-Bayoumi, the Brotherhood's second in command, told Al-Hayat las week that "the Muslim Brotherhood will not recognize Israel under any circumstances and might put the peace treaty with the Jewish state up to a referendum."
The Brotherhood, he added, "did not sign the peace accords… We are allowed to ask the people or the elected parliament to express their opinion on the treaty, and (to find out) whether it compromised the people's freedom and sovereignty. We will take the proper legal steps in dealing with the peace deal. To me, it isn't binding at all. The people will express their opinion on the matter."
The Muslim Brotherhood won more than a third of the votes in the last stage of elections for Egypt's lower house of parliament, according to partial results on Friday, showing the Islamists are set to dominate the legislature.
Banned under deposed President Hosni Mubarak, the Brotherhood has emerged as a major winner from the uprising that toppled him, exploiting a well-organized support base in the first free legislative vote in decades.
The Brotherhood's party list won 37.5% of the vote in the third and final stage of voting. Repeating a pattern seen in previous rounds, the hardline Islamist Nour Party list came second in most of the districts after this week's vote, results on its party website showed.
The Islamists now look set to wield major influence over the shape of a new constitution to be drafted by a 100-strong body that the new legislature will pick, though the Brotherhood has promised that Egyptians of all persuasions will have a say.
Reuters contributed to the report