Jerusalem: The Muslim Brotherhood’s victory in Egyptian Presidential Elections has raised fears in Israel that its strategic 1979 peace agreement with its southern neighbour could be in danger.
In contrast, in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, ecstatic residents flocked into the streets, fired guns in the air and handed out candy in celebration.
Israel`s peace agreement with Egypt, its first with an Arab country, is a cornerstone of Israeli security. The agreement ended decades of hostilities, which witnessed five wars and thousands of deaths.
While relations have never been warm, Egypt has upheld the deal, keeping its bordering Sinai peninsula largely demilitarised, allowing the Israeli military to focus on other hostile borders with the Palestinians, Syria and Lebanon.
In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he respected the results of Egypt`s democratic process and hoped the peace agreement would remain intact.
"Israel expects to continue cooperation with the Egyptian government on the basis of the peace agreement between the two countries, which is of interest to the two peoples and contributes to regional stability," he said.
With the Egyptian military still the ultimate power in Egypt, senior Israeli defence officials who maintain contacts with Egypt said yesterday that they do not expect any immediate changes in relations.
Over the long term, they warned, the Brotherhood may seek to cancel the peace agreement. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a sensitive security assessment.
The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928, is a pan-Arabic movement that favours creation of a Muslim state that encompasses the entire Middle East.