It is clear that Egypt is trying to gain control over terror in the Sinai Peninsula, and Israel must respect and allow this attempt, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday in an interview with Army Radio.
Barak: Egypt clearly trying to control Sinai terror
Responding to Egyptian President Mohammad Morsy\’s announcement that he is interested in renewing his county\’s nuclear program to produce electricity, Barak said: "Many countries in the world have nuclear reactors for peaceful purposes. The problem is when a country decides that the cover of a civilian nuclear energy program, it begins attempts to obtain nuclear weapons. This is a very serious situation, but we have no indication that Egypt is there."
Earlier Thursday morning Army Radio reported that a special security order is expected to ban citizens from approaching closer than 300 meters from the Israeli-Egypt border. Barak said that if such an order is needed, then such an order will be issued. "The state needs to defend itself effectively," he added.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon also put hope in Egypt\’s new leadership on Thursday, saying that ties between the two countries may well improve it in various fields.
In an interview with Israel Radio, Ayalon expressed his belief that it was in Egypt\’s interest to have good relations with Israel. He said that in terms of security, economics, policy and regional development. "I am happy that [Egyptian President Mohamed] Morsy is also thinking about these things," said Ayalon.
However, Ayalon said, "it is important to remember what shoes Morsy stepped into – it was never a honeymoon." Relations between Israel and Egypt were always cold he added. He said that Morsy had been invited to visit Israel, but that it was unrealistic to expect a political visit from the Egyptian president any time soon.
The ministers\’ comments came as Morsy was addressing the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran, marking the first visit to Iran by an Egyptian leader since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Diplomatic relations between Cairo and Tehran broke down immediately after Iran\’s revolution over Egypt\’s support for the overthrown Shah and its peace agreement with Israel.
Addressing separate issues, Barak responded to Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman\’s remark that approval of the defense budget was dependent on Barak\’s support of Ariel University. "Freedom of speech is also a right that ministers have," Barak said. "But I don\’t think that state budget or the defense budget is connected in any way to Ariel."
Earlier in the month The Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria decided to grant Ariel University Center full university status. However, since it is in the West Bank, which is under the IDF’s authority, OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon must sign the declaration, and may only do so after receiving instructions from Barak.
Barak also reacted to the impending evacuation of the Migron outpost, saying the High Court of Justice\’s decision on Wednesday to evacuate the outpost was important and binding. "It hurts Migron residents… but the law is the law," said Barak.