Home inContext Morsi Extends an Olive Branch?

Morsi Extends an Olive Branch?

Jonathan Doc Habany

On Tuesday, the Israel-based newspaper Haaretz reported that newly elected Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi sent a letter to his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres. The letter, dated July 15, came as a response to an early congratulation note sent by Peres for Morsi’s victory and another message conveying Israel’s blessings for the month of Ramadan.

Morsi’s letter, which is the first one sent by the new president to an Israeli official, opens with warm words: “It was with deep thanks that I received your congratulations on the advent of the holy month of Ramadan.” He continues: “I am looking forward to exerting our best efforts to get the Middle East peace process back to its right track in order to achieve security and stability for all peoples of the region, including that Israeli people.”

New Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi addresses the press. (Photo: AP)

Any excitement from Morsi’s letter, however, was soon dashed. A few hours after Haaretz released the report, Yasser Ali, Mohamed Morsi’s spokesman, denied that Morsi sent a letter to the Israeli president, even stating to the media: “What the Israeli newspapers published in this regard on Tuesday is slander, and the slander will not stop.” Israel, however, insists the letter is genuine, and even got the green light from the Egyptians to publish it.

Notably, the day before Morsi’s letter was dated, the Egyptian president hosted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was visiting Cairo for the first time since Morsi’s electoral victory, during which the president pledged to uphold the peace treaty with Israel. Whether a connection can be made between Clinton’s visit and the letter, and whether or not the letter is even real, may never be known. Still, there is no doubting the growing uncertainty surrounding the future of Israeli-Egyptian relations.