Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel is “rock solid,” Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.
“I assume Egypt will continue to respect it,” ElBaradei said when asked about the current treaty. He also said “everyone in Egypt, everyone in the Arab world wants to see an independent Palestinian state.”
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule has been shaken by almost two weeks of popular demonstrations. Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.
Israel’s 10-year government bonds slid today for an eighth day amid the Egyptian unrest, pushing yields to their highest level since January 2010. The yield on the benchmark Mimshal Shiklit note due January 2020 rose 5 basis points to 5.11 percent at the 4:30 p.m. close in Tel Aviv. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.
ElBaradei also said on NBC that President Hosni Mubarak “doesn’t have to leave Egypt at all.” ElBaradei said Mubarak does have to “cede power.”
Mubarak “needs to assume political responsibility and step down,” ElBaradei said. ElBaradei, former head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency, said he wants to be “an agent for change” in Egypt.
Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman and opposition leaders have agreed to study constitutional changes, with the Muslim Brotherhood saying Mubarak should remain in his job to speed the pace of amendments.
Suleiman, who met with the Wafd and Tagammu parties, as well as with the Muslim Brotherhood and billionaire Naguib Sawiris, may name a committee of 25 people today to prepare amendments, said Nabil Zaki, Tagammu party spokesman.
“I want from the opposition to understand that, in this limited time, we can do what President Mubarak has said, and we cannot do more,” Suleiman said today while appearing on ABC’s “This Week” program. “When the new president will come, you will have more time to make any changes you want.”
ElBaradei urged “a year of transition or a government of national unity, of caretaker government that prepares properly for free and fair election,” speaking on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria: GPS” program. “I think any election in the next coming of months before the right people establish parties and engage, it will be again a fake -- a fake democracy.”
ElBaradei suggested the creation of a three-person presidential council that would include a representative of the Egyptian Army and a civilian leader.
Sameh Shoukry, the Egyptian ambassador to the U.S., said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program today that Mubarak currently plans to leave office when his term ends. When asked if Mubarak would leave early, Shoukry said “that is a decision for president to make.”
U.S. Senator John Kerry, the Democrat from Massachusetts and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on “Meet the Press” that Egypt’s transition to a caretaker government is already under way. He said this process would be “enhanced” if Mubarak laid out a clear timetable for the transition.
“What is important is that the Egyptian people understand that their demands are being met,” Kerry said on NBC. “What is needed now is clarity about this process.”
ElBaradei, along with Rachid Mohamed Rachid, Egypt’s former Minister for Trade, also said there was a need for more information on the transition process. ElBaradei described the current talks as “opaque,” adding that it was bad for the Egyptian economy, as well as the Egyptian people, to be “kept in the dark” as to what is going to happen.
Rachid, who refused an invitation to join a new Egyptian government formed a week ago, said today on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” that Egyptian businessmen need a “clarity of direction” along with stability and a positive environment, for the local economy to prosper. “Today, unfortunately, we don’t have any of those,” Rachid said during the CNN program.
The Egyptian uprising is similar to other revolutions in that they all look for some kind of mechanism to move from an authoritarian government to an open, democratic one, Madeleine Albright, U.S. Secretary of State under former President Bill Clinton, said today on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. Egypt’s various opposition groups are also trying to figure out how to work together, Albright said.
“There is a desire I believe on behalf of some within the government to split the opposition, so that you have a variety of voices coming out of Egypt,” Albright said today on CNN.