Reuters | Feb 17,2012 | 23:03 JORDAN TIMES
CAIRO — The Muslim Brotherhood has warned that Egypt may review its 1979 peace deal with Israel if the United States cuts aid to the country, a move that could undermine a cornerstone of Washington’s Middle East policy.
Washington has said the aid is at risk due to an Egyptian probe into civil society groups which has resulted in charges against at least 43 activists, including 19 Americans who have been banned from leaving the country.
Egypt has been one of the world’s largest recipients of US aid since it signed the peace treaty with Israel, and the Brotherhood, which does not yet hold the reins of power, said any decision to cut that aid because of the investigation would raise serious questions.
“We [Egypt] are a party [to the treaty] and we will be harmed so it is our right to review the matter,” Essam El Erian, a senior Brotherhood leader, told Reuters in a telephone interview.
“The aid was one of the commitments of the parties that signed the peace agreement so if there is a breach from one side it gives the right of review to the parties,” added Erian, the deputy leader of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the biggest group in the newly elected parliament.
His remarks are likely to increase pressure on all sides to resolve one of the worst crises in US-Egyptian ties since the treaty was signed. In similar comments, FJP leader Mohammad Mursi said in a statement that US talk of halting the aid was “misplaced”, adding that the peace agreement “could stumble”.
He said: “We want the march of peace to continue in a way that serves the interest of the Egyptian people.”
The 1979 treaty made Egypt the first Arab state to forge peace with Israel and underpinned Washington’s relationship with Cairo during Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule, during which the Brotherhood was officially banned.
The Sinai peninsula, captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, was handed back to Egypt under the agreement, and diplomatic relations between Israel and Egypt were established.
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Note by the editor: Aid always comes with ‘strings attached’. No aid = no strings.