Egyptian presidential candidate Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Wednesday that he would continue to maintain the terms of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty as president of the country.
According to a report in the Hebrew-language Yedioth Aharonoth, al-Sisi made the comments during a televised debate with his main rival, Hamadeen Sabahi. “The peace treaty with Israel is stable, and it is implanted deep within the Egyptian people,” he said.
Sabahi’s reaction to al-Sisi’s claim was immediate, and furious. “Who gave al-Sisi the authority to talk about peace in the name of the Egyptian people? How would he possibly know what people really think about the treaty or about Israel?”, Sabahi asked.
Sabahi is a long-time opponent of normalisation with Israel, and was one of Egypt’s leading dissident voices during the administrations of Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak. He was jailed at least 17 times for challenging the government on a variety of issues, most prominently about ties with Israel.
During the 2011 campaign following Mubarak’s ouster, Sabahi avoided questions about whether he would uphold the military protocol of the treaty with Israel. But he did pledge to violate the civilian protocol of the treaty by cutting gas exports to Israel. He also pledged support for Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon.
“Undoubtedly we will consider everything according to our interests. Resistance is legitimate, and every Arab has the right to resist the occupation of any part of our Arab land. I think that it is the time for Egypt to end its backstabbing role against the resistance, as it has neither resisted, nor helped the resistance,” he told The Majalla online magazine in May, 2011.
Yedioth also reported that al-Sisi has been the subject of multiple assassination attempts since last summer, mostly at the hands of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organization.
Egypt will hold presidential elections on May 26 and 27.