"They accept the treaty with Israel."
They never will. U.S. President Barack Obama's administration took comfort from Morsy's handling of the November Gaza war: From Washington's viewpoint, the Egyptian president resisted using the conflict as a pretext to break relations with Israel, and instead authorized negotiations with the Jewish state to achieve a relatively speedy ceasefire.
From the Muslim Brotherhood's perspective, however, Morsy preserved the movement's anti-Israel agenda. He stood by his refusal to meet with Israelis by outsourcing those negotiations to Egyptian intelligence officials; the ceasefire strengthened Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood; and the Egyptian government accepted no new responsibilities to stem the flow of weapons into Gaza. Far from yielding to the reality of Egyptian-Israeli relations, Morsy simply deferred their reassessment so that he could focus on his more immediate goal -- consolidating the Muslim Brotherhood's control at home. Indeed, one day after the Gaza ceasefire, Morsy issued his power-grabbing constitutional declaration, and rammed through a new Islamist constitution shortly thereafter.
This is, in fact, the very order of events that the Muslim Brotherhood envisions in its long-term program. As Shater explained during his April 2011 unveiling of the Brotherhood's "Renaissance Project," building an "Islamic government" at home must precede the establishment of a "global Islamic state," which is the final stage in achieving "the empowerment of God's religion." To be sure, consolidating power at home could take years, and the fact that the Brotherhood doesn't totally control Egypt's foreign-policy apparatus will also prevent it from scrapping the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty -- for now.
But the Muslim Brotherhood does aim to scrap the treaty, which simply cannot be reconciled with the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred in which every Muslim Brother is thoroughly indoctrinated. This vitriol was perhaps most apparent in Morsy's now-infamous 2010 remarks, in which he called Jews "the descendants of apes and pigs." Even as president, Morsy's blatant bigotry remains irrepressible: In a meeting with a U.S. Senate delegation in Cairo, Morsy implied that the U.S. media was controlled by the Jews.
And while the Brotherhood's apologists claim that these are idle words on which the movement won't act, its leaders have repeatedly signaled the opposite. In recent months, the Brotherhood's political party drafted legislation to unilaterally amend the treaty, a Brotherhood foreign policy official told a private salon that Morsy was working to "gradually" end normalization with Israel, and Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie has twice called for Muslims to wage a "holy jihad" to retake Jerusalem.
Washington should stop deluding itself: It will not be able to change the Brotherhood's ideology on Israel. Instead, it should focus squarely on constraining the Brotherhood's behavior in order to prevent it from acting on its beliefs anytime soon. As the Brotherhood makes quite clear on its Arabic media platforms, it has no intention of reconciling itself to the reality of either the peace treaty or the very existence of Israel.
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