Mohammed Gadallah, the legal adviser to Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi, told the Egyptian media yesterday that Mursi was looking into the possibility of amending the Camp David Accords to expand Egypt’s control over the Sinai.
The accords give Egypt full sovereignty and control of the entire peninsula, but Egypt is only allowed to keep a small force in much of the territory, as per the 1979 peace treaty with Israel. Last week, Cairo deployed heavy weaponry – including artillery and attack helicopters – to target terrorists following a deadly attack on border police near the town of Rafah.
Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak approved Egypt’s initial use of air power in the Sinai, for the first time since the 1973 war, as Mursi ordered a crackdown on terrorist sites in the Peninsula. Israeli ministers then gave telephone approval for the temporary maintenance of heavy weaponry in the Sinai as the crackdown continued.
Calls to review the terms of the peace treaty in Egypt have intensified since the overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak last year, and especially since the attack last Sunday in which 16 Egyptian border police were killed.
Despite the calls, any amendment to the treaty would require negotiations with Israel, which would likely be cautious of an increased Egyptian military presence in the Peninsula. Egypt could instead make unilateral changes, but this would almost certainly be met with disapproval internationally and would also jeopardise the peace treaty and already fragile ties between Jerusalem and Cairo.