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Sadat’s ‘Cold Peace’ Legacy Is at Increasing Risk

The Muslim Brotherhood has already announced that “the Egyptian people should prepare for the war against Israel.” Yet there is another threat to the stability of the Middle East. According to Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, that threat is from a secular, but reactionary, regime — anti-American and anti-Israeli, one that has returned to its Nasserist roots. “The role of the Camp David accord has ended,” says Ayman Nour, the most Western opposition figure in Egypt.

All the secular forces in Cairo are asking for a review of or a break from the relations with both Israel and the United States. The protagonist of the revolts, Mohamed ElBaradei, has said that Israel is the biggest threat in the Middle East. “Israel has signed a peace treaty with Mubarak, not with Egypt,” said the Nobel Peace Prize winner. Leftist Karama Party leader Hamdeen Sabahi proclaims the end of the “American-Israeli domination over Egypt.” And the generals in power have just asked a former judge of the State Council, the so-called “moderate islamist” Tariq al-Bishri, to chair the committee that will reform the Egyptian constitution. Praising the founder of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Mr. Bishri said that, against Israel, “all forms of resistance must be deployed, including violent resistance.”

The old Wafd Party wants to strengthen Egypt’s ties with Islamic countries such as Sudan. The largest leftist party, Tagammu, claims “anti-Zionist principles,” promotes solidarity among Arab states, supports the “Palestinian cause,” and opposes “normalization with Israel.” The Nasserist Party wants to “solve the Palestinian issue through the expulsion of the occupying forces from all Arab lands” and opposes the “normalization of relations with Israel.”

Even the popular movement Kefaya movement calls for “the opposition to the influence of Israel and the United States in the region.” Kefaya’s leader, George Ishak, said that “the Camp David agreement is only ink on paper.” The April 6 Movement, born a year ago, also asks for the cancellation of the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt. The Democratic Front plans to “resist Israeli expansionism and support the Palestinian cause.”

And Said Abdel-Khalek, former editor in chief of the Wafd Party’s Al-Wafd, said that the conflict with the Jewish state will be renewed because “there isn’t a house in Egypt that doesn’t have a martyr, killed in one of our wars with Israel. There are too many open wounds. I was an officer in the 1973 war and I can’t put my hand in an Israeli’s. And the vast majority of the people share this feeling.”

Nobody knows the future of the “cold peace” between Egyptians and Israelis, the biggest achievement of Mubarak’s regime. But Sadat’s legacy regarding Israel is already at risk. As spelled out here, a deep enmity against the Zionists is growing in Egypt.


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