Egypt presidential rivals pledge to review Israel peace treaty in historic TV debate (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Reuters and The Associated Press 05/11/12)
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Egyptian presidential hopefuls Amr Moussa and Abdel Moneim Abol
Fotouh said in a televised debate on Thursday that Israel is an
adversary and enemy, and pledged to review Egypt’s peace treaty with
The two election front-runners, a former foreign minister and a
moderate Islamist, squared off in the Arab world´s first ever
presidential debate, watched by millions across the Arab world. The
two sought to trip each other up on questions ranging from their
perspective on Islamic sharia law to their views on Israel during the
four hour debate, which was broadcast on two privately owned
They repeatedly accused each other of distorting the facts.
Both candidates said they would review Egypt´s 1979 peace treaty with
Israel, a country Abol Fotouh described as an enemy and Moussa called
an adversary. Last month, Moussa told told an election rally in
southern Egypt that the Camp David agreement was "dead and buried."
As the debate moved to foreign policy in the early hours of the
morning, the veteran diplomat Moussa made a gaffe, when he called
Iran an Arab state.
A former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Abol Fotouh portrayed
Moussa as a member of the Mubarak government that had corrupted
Egypt. "There is a rule that says that one who created the problem
cannot solve it," said the 60-year old.
Moussa, who was head of the Arab League at the time of the uprising,
defended his record as Egypt´s foreign minister but added that he had
left the post in 2001.
"The regime that fell, fell with Moussa outside of it," said the 75-
year old. "I say, you too were silent. You used to defend the
positions of the Muslim Brotherhood and not Egyptian interests."
The two are among 13 candidates competing in the election, due to
begin on May 23.
Other contenders include Mohamed Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood´s
candidate, Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak´s last prime minister, and Hamdeen
Sabahy, a leftist. The organisers of Thursday´s debate said Moussa
and Abol Fotouh had been invited because they were ahead in the polls.
The debate repeatedly swiveled back to Moussa and Abol Fotouh´s past
Moussa asked Abol Fotouh about an oath he had pledged to the
religious guide of the Brotherhood. "What does this oath mean? Does
it mean that if you are elected you will have (another) president?"
Abol Fotouh replied: "It seems Amr Moussa doesn´t follow the news
carefully and doesn´t know that I resigned from the Muslim
Brotherhood after I decided to run for the presidency in April, 2011.
This resignation was because I wanted to be free to serve the nation -
to be a president for all Egyptians."
Moussa accused him of double-speak, asking how he had managed to win
endorsement from both liberals and hardline Salafi Islamists. "With
Salafis, he is a Salafi. With liberals, he is a liberal. With
centrists, he is a centrist," he said.
The tension which appeared to build through the debate manifested
itself in scathing closing remarks.
Moussa urged Egyptians not to vote for a man he said was unclear in
his policies and was not qualified to lead a state, accusing him
of "forging history".
"I am sorry to say that we must warn the Egyptian people," Moussa
said. "The next president must have certain qualifications that can
lead the country."
Abol Fotouh shot back by saying that a vote for Moussa would be a
step backwards. "We are for the first time choosing the president of
Egypt," he said. "I hope that we don´t allow ourselves to be taken
back, once again, to the fallen regime, with its ideas, its substance
and figures," he said. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 05/11/12)
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