"It is a very significant development," said a Jerusalem source, who admitted he did not expect such a move so suddenly. "We need to see where this leads," he added.
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Morsi fires Tantawi; expands presidential powers
Earlier on Sunday, Morsi ordered Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi to retire and has canceled the military-declared constitutional amendments that gave top generals wide powers. In addition, Morsi ordered the retirement of Egyptian Air Defense Commander Lt. General Abd El Aziz Seif-Eldeen, and Chief of the Navy, Vice Admiral Mohab Mamish. In addition, Morsi appointed a senior judge, Mahmoud Mekki, as vice president.
Morsi also issued a new constitutional declaration that grants him many presidential powers that were restricted by the army in June, al-Ahram news site reported.
Morsi swearing in new vice president (Photo: AP)
"The Muslim Brotherhood is taking advantage of an opportunity – the Egyptian people are preoccupied with the developments in Sinai and are pointing the finger at the security establishment," the source noted, adding that "Morsi is presenting himself as a savior; he is going out on the field and is allowing himself to settle accounts with the security apparatus."
"What Morsi did is contrary to the constitution, which was determined by top military generals. But Morsi wants to show who the real landlord is. Now he needs to see how the army is going to react, if at all, and whether it decides that it's worth while to clash with Morsi," the official explained.
'Decision not meant to target individuals'
Morsi said on Sunday his decision to order the retirement of Egypt's top generals and cancel a military order that had curbed his powers was not directed at individuals or embarrassing institutions.
"The decisions I took today were not meant ever to target certain persons, nor did I intend to embarrass institutions, nor was my aim to narrow freedoms," Morsi said, during a speech to mark the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Morsi settling accounts. (Photo: AP)
"I did not mean to send a negative message about anyone, but my aim was the benefit of this nation and its people," he said, praising the work of the armed forces and saying his decision would free them to focus on their military role.
MK Israel Hasson (Kadima), who formerly served as deputy chief of the Shin Bet, said that what happened in Egypt "was what the military council was afraid of. In my opinion Morsi is rising against the army and he's doing it in a very short period of time."
Asked whether the move will affect Israel, MK Hasson said that "at this point, the move is not supposed to carry any consequences here. It will only matter if we see that Morsi also changes the type dialogue with us.
"I think decision makers should try to find a way to begin a dialogue with the Egyptian president. The country needs to speak with the head of state in a sensitive and reasonable manner," Hasson said.
Moran Azulay contributed to this report
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