The first speech by Egyptian president-elect Mohamamad Morsi
after the official results were announced Sunday was quite moderate, and contained a reassuring message for Israel.
His promise to respect all international treaties to which Egypt
is a signatory sought to quell concerns in Egypt, the international community, and – of course – in Israel.
However, over the past year, since he set out on the campaign trail as the candidate for the Muslim Brotherhood,
Morsi's message has not always been one of rapprochement. While sometimes he would reiterate that he was pursuing peace, at other times he would vilify Israel for the way it carried out or failed to carry out its Camp David commitments; for its ties to the Mubarak regime; and over the Palestinian issue.
Here is a sampling of some of Morsi's campaign quotes:
While still chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party, Morsi attended a conference in Tanta, where he said that "The Zionists are seeking to destroy Egypt because they believe the revolution is more dangerous for them than a nuclear bomb. We cannot discount the possibility that the Zionists have made a pact with security forces, senior officials, holdovers from the old regime, the bullies and corrupt businessmen to destroy the revolution, and with it all of Egypt."
A Morsi campaign banner (Photo: AP)
In an interview to the "90 Minutes" program on Egypt's Al-Mihwar TV station, Morsi said that Egyptians were "committed to peace with Israel."
When asked if he was equally committed to the gas
export agreement, Morsi replied that "there is a lot of talk about the gas deal as the contract was greatly flawed. Egypt honors the agreement, but other factors are involved. If Egypt loses by the deal and needs the gas, or if Egypt suffers from a gas shortage, the best thing to do is put the interests of its people ahead of the interests of other countries."
When asked if Egypt should reexamine or cancel the gas contract, Morsi said: "The word 'cancel' isn't to the point. No one thinks of being aggressive toward others or creating conflict with Europe, America and Asia. The intra-Egyptian issue requires plenty of resources. The Egyptian people can manage its affairs and protect itself. It carries a message of peace and wants to live in peace with the entire world."
Morsi launched his presidential campaign by saying that if he won, he would honor all existing treaties, including Camp David. He emphasized that there would be a fundamental change in Egypt's foreign policy and made it clear at a press conference that as president, he would strive to protect the rights of the Palestinians in a Palestinian state. Morsi said that the Palestinian issue was "close to the heart" of every Egyptian and that he would defend it with his heart and soul, but without violating any of the treaties Egypt had signed.
Morsi at a polling station (Photo: AFP)
During the campaign, Morsi visited northern Sinai
and told journalists that "Sinai has many tourist and architectonic elements, groundwater, and other good things that can't be measured. The Sinai peninsula
is Egypt's true national security and developing it is an act of protecting the state's national security. With Allah's help, our revolution will continue and won't allow the corrupt elements to set up shop. Israel is trying to steal our gas fields and take them out of Sinai."
Morsi told the American TV station CBS that "As president, I will carry a message of peace to the entire world. Egyptians are calling for peace and our relations are built on friendship. Anyone who thinks that they can attack Egypt physically or morally will be met with the strong economy that we will build with Allah's help."
In the same interview, Morsi addressed the weakness of former president Hosni Mubarak's regime, recalling that when senior Israeli officials had threatened to blow up the Aswan Dam,
not one senior Egyptian government official had responded. "Such utterances are not acceptable and we won't allow five million to scare 95 million (sic)." Morsi also said that it was time to ensure that the Rafah crossing
to Gaza remained open 24 hours a day.
The next day, Morsi gave an interview to the London-based Al-Hayat in which he provided his version of Egypt's relations with Israel: "We said before and we emphasize now that we honor all existing international agreements and we say now to Israel – that doesn't mean that you shouldn't know that the new Egypt is different from what it was. If the peace treaty says that there needs to be a just peace for all peoples of the region, we ask 'Where is the just peace for all the peoples?' It doesn't exist."
According to Morsi, the treaty with Israel says that the Palestinian have the right to self-determination – in other words, a state. "Where is this right after more than 30 years?" he asked. Returning to the old threat against the dam, Morsi stressed that "We cling to the message of peace and aren't sniffing around for war, but if there are international agreements, they must be honored – regarding both Egypt and the Palestinians." He politely declined to say whether, as president, he would agree to meet with Israeli officials.
Speaking at an election rally in Alexandria, Morsi said: "The old regime were patrons of the Zionist entity. Where were they when Egyptian soldiers died on the border? When the gas was sold for pennies to Zionists? The entire world has heard the Zionists say that Hosni Mubarak was a strategic asset for them."
At another rally in his hometown of A-Zakayziq in the Sharqia province, Morsi said in response to the results of the run-off vote conducted among Egyptian citizens residing in Israel that "I am happy and proud that I didn't get a single vote among voters living in the Zionist entity."
In an interview to the Saudi-based newspaper Asharq last week, Morsi was asked about the possibility of Egypt entering a conflict with Israel. He answered: "We will first of all work to build our country from inside and respect all international treaties. I am sure that the Egyptian army can fight any enemy that threatens its borders."
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