Egypt PM says peace deal with Israel not sacred

Thu Sep 15, 2011 2:37pm EDT
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By Yasmine Saleh

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's Prime Minister Essam Sharaf said a peace deal with Israel was not "sacred" and could be changed for the benefit of peace or the region.

His comments, made in an interview with a Turkish television channel and broadcast on state television, were the strongest yet by the new government which took over after president Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in February.

"The Camp David agreement is not a sacred thing and is always open to discussion with what would benefit the region and the case of fair peace ... and we could make a change if needed," he said in the interview.

Politics professor Mustapha al-Sayyid said Sharaf's comments appeared to be aimed more at boosting Egyptian security on the border with Israel, which under the 1979 treaty is subject to limitations, rather than abrogating it altogether.

"It has been well demonstrated that the size of Egyptian forces in this area is not sufficient to meet threats to security. The number of troops should be increased and equipment improved," he said.

"I don't think any Egyptian political forces are calling for abrogation of the treaty or even ending diplomatic relations."

Tensions between Egypt and Israel, which have been rising since Mubarak was overthrown, flared after a cross-border attack last month.

Cairo accused Israeli forces of shooting dead five Egyptian security guards during gun battles with Palestinian militants who Israel says had earlier ambushed and killed eight Israelis.   Continued...