Over the weekend, one of Egypt leading candidates for the presidency declared Israel to be a “Racist State with 200 nuclear warheads”.
Abdul Moniem Aboul Fotouh, one of the leading candidates for the Egyptian presidency, made the comment during a televised debate with Amr Moussa, former Arab League chief and main opponent. Aboul Fotouh is known as a moderate who has the support of both liberals and hardline Salafi fundamentalists, but has recently taken a harsh tone when it comes to Israel. The final election for the presidency will take place on later this month on the 23rd and 24th. Currently, Fotouh is in third place, with nearly 18 percent of the vote.
During the debate, he also condemned the US for the assassination of Bin Laden, declaring it state terrorism as well as saying that the Camp David Peace Accords are a security threat to Egypt. He claimed that Bin Laden should have been tried in court and then executed if he was found to be guilty. He also refused to refer to Bin Laden as a terrorist, claiming that the label hurts “Muslim interests”.
Elaborating on his objections to the peace treaty between Israeli and Egypt, Fotouh said he that the Egyptian military should be allowed to enter the Sinai and Israelis should be forced to use visas to enter and leave the peninsula. The Sinai is a demilitarized zone in which neither the IDF nor Egyptians are supposed to operate, although both sides have watched over the region because of the threat of terrorism and the desire to keep the region calm. Recently however, anarchy has reigned because of the collapse of Hosni Mubarak’s government and the difficulties in establishing a new government.
Aboul Fotouh is not the only Egyptian candidate to rant against Israel. Hamdeen Sabahi, a candidate who subscribes to Pan-Arabism akin to Gamal Abdel Nasser and has vowed to stop any sort of cooperation with Israel outside of what it is obligated to. Amr Moussa, Aboul-Fotouh's main opponent, has also railed against the treaty as have many others.
Israel reacted to the statements with officials saying that the Egyptian army is in fact operating in much larger numbers that it is supposed to in the Sinai and has been doing so with the encouragement of Israel in order to keep the peace. Other officials said that the treaty is still in place and there currently is no cause for concern.