Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood, which has dominated Egyptian parliamentary elections, has offered Washington assurances that it would respect the 1979 peace accord with Israel, a top U.S. official said on Thursday.
“They have made commitments to us along those regards,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said when asked whether Washington believed that the Islamist party would uphold the treaty.
The Islamist movement earlier this week said that it would not recognize the Jewish state and that it would put the peace deal to a referendum when the movement assumes power.
“We will not recognize Israel under any circumstances; we are talking about an occupation entity and a criminal enemy,” said Dr. Rashad Bayoumi, the deputy head of the Brotherhood.
In September, the Brotherhood, whose rise followed president Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow in February, demanded a “revision” of ties with Israel but did not call for scrapping the treaty, the first between Israel and an Arab country.
The Brotherhood also has close ties with the Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas, which is viewed as a terrorist group by Israel and the United States.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said June 30 that the United States had been in “limited contacts” with the Brotherhood as Washington was “re-engaging in” a five- or six-year-old policy in light of Egypt’s political changes.
The Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, has claimed the lead in the third and final round of parliamentary elections after leading the pack in the first two rounds.
Nuland said Jeffrey Feltman, the assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, was discussing the elections and other issues during his current visit to Cairo, but could not say whether he would meet with Brotherhood members.
Nuland said it is important for the United States to sound out the views of the Muslim Brotherhood and other parties because there could be differences of views within each of them.
“Among the reasons that we are trying to meet with different political actors in Egypt, including with the Muslim Brotherhood, is that this isn't a monolithic organization. None of these groups are monolithic,” she said.
She said the United States wants to be clear publicly and privately about “our hopes and expectations that any political actors will respect human rights and will uphold the international obligations of the Egyptian government.”
She was again alluding to the peace treaty with Israel.
Nuland added: “So we have in that context had some good reassurances from different interlocutors and we will continue to seek those kinds of reassurances going forward.”