By Barry Rubin
We have been repeatedly assured in the media–on the basis of no evidence–that if the Muslim Brotherhood comes to power in a coalition or even directly that the radical Islamist group would keep the peace treaty with Israel.
On Russian television, one Brotherhood leader, Rashad al-Bayoumi, said that when they came to power they will abolish the treaty altogether.
Another, former spokesman Doctor Kamel Helbaoui, explains one way they might get out of it. It is also a good example of how they avoid embarassing questions, and usually get away with it. Clearly, Brotherhood leaders have been warned to avoid extremist statements as it tries to sell itself to the Western audience and (insert adjective) media as moderate and cuddly.
In an interview on French television, he says (1:40-2:12 on the show):
Interviewer: “And would you revoke the peace treaty with Israel?”
Answer: “We respect all protocols and the treaties built on justice.
Interviewer: “Sorry, I didn’t understand your response.”
Answer: “We respect every treaty and every protocol for peace, but it should be built on justice.
Interviewer: “Does that mean you would keep the peace treaty with Israel?
Answer: “You keep it, but you have to review it in [unclear] of the atrocities from either side.”
Interviewer: “What do you mean by that?”
Answer: “I mean that we don’t need injustice to reach the people. If the peace treaty does not give the people their rights, it is not a good treaty, is not a good peace accord.”
Interviewer: “So are you saying that the current peace treaty is not good enough?”
Answer: “No, it is not good enough. I must say that.”
Interviewer: “So you would revoke that peace treaty.
Answer: “No, I didn’t say that.
Interviewer: You would change it?
Answer: It could be reviewed in view of respect of human rights. And through the United Nations, through freedom given to the people, respect of every one. Not occupation and the military atrocities against civilians.”
So while trying to avoid admitting it, he explains that Egypt would demand changes and not accept the existing treaty. But what you also have to know–and most journalists would miss–is that the Muslim Brotherhood regards Israel’s existence as “occupation” and the denial of Muslim rights.
Paradoxically, then, the only way Israel could have a peace treaty with Egypt is not to exist at all.
Other Brotherhood spokesmen have said that if the group comes to power there will be a referendum on the treaty, and of course it will be rejected. This has been said many times in Arabic though the Western media seem completely unaware of it, as with many other things about the Brotherhood.
You have to understand the bizarre situation here. Every speech in Arabic of Brotherhood leaders and cadre and articles in their publications are full of anti-Jewish hatred, anti-American hatred, and support for violence. Yet in the Western media all of this simply is never mentioned, in part because reporters take the group’s word on its credentials.
In other words, the Brotherhood will end the peace with Israel and return to a state of war.
This would not necessarily mean going to war, since Egypt’s army might well be unwilling to do so, considering the consequences and not liking the Brotherhood. In contrast, though, it is easy to make Egypt into a safe haven from which terrorists could attack across the border and any weapons Hamas wanted would come from Egyptian arsenals (or if the army blocked that, just be freely imported into the Gaza Strip.
Eventually, this would lead to renewed war between Israel and Hamas, or even Israel and Egypt, in which thousands of people would die. Some would call that speculation. I would prefer that they didn’t get to see it proven to be accurate.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan), Conflict and Insurgency in the Contemporary Middle Eastand editor of the (seventh edition) (Viking-Penguin), The Israel-Arab Reader the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria(Palgrave-Macmillan), A Chronological History of Terrorism (Sharpe), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).