Egypt presidential frontrunner Moussa puts Israel on notice


Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa speaks to the press as the leader of the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas Mahmud Zahar listens on, in Cairo, on March 29, 2011, at the Arab league headquarters.



The leading candidate in Egypt’s presidential race has said he would break with the decades-old policy of reliably friendly relations with Israel.

Amr Moussa, 74, told the Wall Street Journal that his predecessor Hosni Mubarak’s efforts to help solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had “led nowhere” and Egypt now needed new policies that “reflect the consensus of the people.”

"Mubarak had a certain policy, it was his own policy and I don't think we have to follow this," he said. "We want to be a friend of Israel, but it has to have two parties, it is not on Egypt to be a friend. Israel has to be a friend, too."

His remarks came Mubarak’s feared security chief, Habib al-Adly, was jailed for 12 years for corruption, in the first such sentence for a Mubarak-era minister.

Former Interior Minister Al-Adly, who oversaw the expansion of the regime’s vast security apparatus, was sentenced for money laundering and profiteering stemming from a fraudulent land deal – kickstarting what is likely to be a string of prosecutions of former ministers.

Presidential candidate Moussa, the outgoing head of the Arab League, also told the WSJ that parliamentary elections slated for September are likely to produce a political landscape dominated by Islamists, led by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Moussa, who himself has a secular background, is expected to accelerate changes to Egypt’s foreign policy that are already worrying Israel and the United States. After the end of Mubarak’s three-decade rule amid a popular revolt, the new military-led Egyptian government has already helped negotiate a reconciliation deal between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas in Cairo — a move upset Israel because it regards Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Moussa, who was formerly Mubarak's foreign minister, is the frontrunner in the presidential election scheduled to take place by the end of November. He will run as an independent.

It is also working towards normalizing relations with Iran and announced plans to re-open the border between Egypt and Gaza, against which Israel is maintaining a blockade.

Iran's foreign minister, Ali Akbafr Salehi, said on Wednesday that his country will resume co-operation with Egypt, starting with the two countries’ re-establishing embassies, according to the Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Egypt under Mubarak was considered the most reliable ally the U.S. had in the Arab world, especially with regard to its good relations with Israel.