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The Egyptian revolution uproots the 'sanctity' of the Camp David Accords

May 4, 2014 at 3:45 pm

The Egyptian Prime Minister caused surprise with his remarks which described the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, the Camp David Accords, as not being sacred and thus being subject to alteration. However, it is noteworthy that Essam Sharaf did not mention the word ‘annulled’.

Mr Sharaf, who was chosen for his position by the Tahrir Square revolutionaries, is endeavouring to take up a position in line with the feelings of the Egyptian people who are raging against Israel following the killing of five Egyptian soldiers by Israeli forces near the Egyptian border with Gaza. The soldiers were in pursuit of a group accused of being behind an attack on Israelis near the port of Eilat.

Indeed, the Camp David Accords are not sacred – much like other international treaties – and are subject not only to alteration, but also to cancellation. Such matters revolve around the strength or weakness of signatories to any treaty. Here we are taking about two parties, Israel and Egypt, who signed a treaty more than thirty years ago.

When Camp David was imposed on Egypt in 1979 during the presidency of Anwar Sadat, Egypt was in a position of weakness as it was emerging from a war and Sadat wanted to transfer his rifles from Soviet to US shoulders in the hope of a hefty US aid package and economic prosperity. He succeeded, with US military and economic aid to Egypt amounting to $2 billion annually.

Israel has not adhered to all the terms of Camp David, breaching the treaty on more than one occasion in a humiliating manner, not only by violating Egyptian sovereignty in the Sinai and killing Egyptian soldiers, but also by launching numerous wars against neighbouring Arab countries, particularly Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. This was embarrassing for both the Egyptian leadership and its people and provoked their Arab and Islamic sentiments.

Now the picture is very different and the scales have begun to swing the other way in Egypt and across the Middle East. Popular revolts against repressive, dictatorial and corrupt regimes started in Tunisia and Egypt before moving through Yemen and ending up in Syria.

The people of Egypt took the initiative and rid themselves of a dictatorial regime which bowed to Israeli blackmail and violations of Egyptian sovereignty and national dignity for more than forty years. Shamefully, Mubarak’s government sold natural gas and oil to Israel at prices below the going rate internationally and even below the price at which it was sold to the people of Egypt. The Egyptians have every right to press for changes to the Camp David Accords, and their annulment should Israel continue to violate and fail to adhere to the terms therein.

When thousands of Egyptian citizens broke into the Israeli embassy and burnt the Israeli flag before replacing it with an Egyptian flag, their actions summed up the people’s sentiments toward Camp David. Essam Sharaf’s government has not insisted on a clear and frank Israeli apology for the killing of the Egyptian soldiers in Sinai. It has settled instead for an expression of regret and Israel’s nominal participation in an inquiry that is yet to establish the existence of a crime. Egypt should make statements to alter the Camp David Accords in practice and in a manner that will allow the return of full Egyptian sovereignty and forces to the Sinai Peninsula. The government should do this out of respect for its people and their patriotic feelings and as an embodiment of democratic change imposed by the blood of the martyrs of the Egyptian Revolution.

Source: Al-Quds Opinion