NEW YORK - Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi has called on the US to make good on its commitment to Palestinian self-rule made at the 1978 Camp David accord that led to peace between Egypt and Israel.
In an interview with New York Times published Sunday, Mursi equated Egypt’s commitment to peace with Israel to the US commitment to the Palestinians.
“As long as peace and justice are not fulfilled for the Palestinians, then the treaty remains unfulfilled,” he said.
Mursi spoke to The New York Times correspondent in Cairo on the eve of his departure for New York to take part in the annual session of the UN General Assembly.
“Successive American administrations essentially purchased with American taxpayer money the dislike, if not the hatred, of the peoples of the region,” the president said.
According to the paper, he was referring to US backing of dictatorial governments in the region and Washington’s unconditional support for Israel.
The remarks followed days of violent anti-American protests in Cairo sparked by an anti-Islamic film posted on YouTube. During these events Mursi called on demonstrators to show restraint while condemning the anti-Islam film. Mursi praised US President Barack Obama for moving “decisively and quickly” to support the Arab Spring revolutions, arguing that the United States supported “the right of the people of the region to enjoy the same freedoms that Americans have.”
But he also expressed concern about the plight of Palestinians, who still don’t have their own state, the paper said. Americans, he pointed out, “have a special responsibility” for the Palestinians because the United States had signed the Camp David accord, which called for Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza to allow for full Palestinian self-rule. “As long as peace and justice are not fulfilled for the Palestinians, then the treaty remains unfulfilled,” he said.
According to The Times, Mursi was evasive when asked if he considered the United States an ally. “That depends on your definition of ally,” he said, adding that he considered the two nations “real friends.”
The issue was thrust to the forefront of bilateral relations earlier this month, when President Obama suggested that Cairo was neither an ally nor a foe. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland and other top administration officials then tried to distance from Obama’s comment by acknowledging that officially Egypt was still “major non-Nato ally.”
Egypt was granted such status under US law in 1989, allowing it to enjoy a close relationship with the US military, along with other allies including Australia, Japan, Jordan, Israel and Thailand. In his interview, Mursi also reaffirmed his links to the Muslim Brotherhood, a religious organization viewed by many in the United States with suspicion.
“I grew up with the Muslim Brotherhood,” the president said. “I learned my principles in the Muslim Brotherhood. I learned how to love my country with the Muslim Brotherhood. I learned politics with the Brotherhood. I was a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
He also pointed out that the United States should not expect Egypt to live by its rules as the West, underscoring a cultural divide between the two nations.
“If you want to judge the performance of the Egyptian people by the standards of German or Chinese or American culture, then there is no room for judgment,” he said. “When the Egyptians decide something, probably it is not appropriate for the US. When the Americans decide something, this, of course, is not appropriate for Egypt.”
Mursi initially sought to meet with President Obama at the White House, The Times said, but he received a cool reception, and the idea was dropped.