Israel and Egypt have for strategic reasons adhered to their peace pact, which has been buttressed with generous U.S. aid. And the Egyptian president-elect, Mohamed Morsi, has pledged to keep his country’s international commitments. Still, perceptions are rife in both countries that the other side has failed to honor key elements of the deal.
The Egyptian perspective was aired recently by Morsi in a television interview during the presidential campaign. Israel, he said, had not kept its commitment under the Camp David accords to reach a broader Middle East peace, particularly with the Palestinians.
Reflecting the views of his movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as wider popular sentiment, Morsi accused the Israelis of acting in bad faith since they signed the peace agreements.
“Where is the mutual respect?” he said. “Where is what the agreement says about a just and comprehensive peace among all peoples of the region? Where’s the mutual non-belligerence? . . . Where are the good neighborly relations mentioned in the agreement?”
Referring to parts of the Camp David accords that outline a plan for Palestinian self-rule and negotiations to reach a final agreement on the future of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Morsi asked: “Who attacked whom since the agreement was signed? . . . Who is in the other’s territory now? Who attacked Gaza?”
Egyptian critics of the peace accords have long focused on the Palestinian dimension of the Camp David agreement, which prompted accusations in the Arab world when it was signed that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat had made a separate peace, promising Israel normal relations before it had withdrawn from other Arab territories it captured in 1967.
“Egyptians signed the treaty looking for relations between Israel and all the Arab countries,” said Gamal Mazloum, a retired Egyptian army general. When that failed to materialize, opposition hardened in Egypt to expanding ties.
In Israel, the treaty raised hopes of developing trade and cultural links, tourism, and cooperation in business and agriculture. But ideological resistance among parts of the Egyptian elite to ties with Israel, along with the strains of the continuing conflict with the Palestinians, had a chilling effect on the relationship.
The sense in Israel was that Egypt was not interested in genuine normalization that would go beyond a state of non-belligerence. Egyptian tourists and businessmen did not come to Israel, the Egyptian press carried virulently anti-Israeli cartoons and articles, and trade ties were limited. The reservation emanated from the top; President Hosni Mubarak avoided travel to Israel, coming only once, for the funeral of the assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.