We need a Parliament that respects the rules of the game 

3/3/2016, Al Bawaba

There was a disgraceful clash between the two Egyptian Parliament members, Kamal Ahmed, and Tawfik Okasha. We saw the former threatening the latter and shaking his shoe at him, an image that is extremely inappropriate and one that conveys a very damaging image of our Parliament. This, we must recall, is the Parliament we had long waited for, both internally and externally, in order to complete the democratic process.

We need to look deeply into the real reason for this clash. This incident came as a reaction to the dinner invitation extended by Tawfik Okasha to the Israeli Ambassador. I do not wish to take sides on this matter. However, some have gone so far as accusing Okasha of treason for breaking with the tradition of opposing “normalization” with Israel.

Frankly, I fail to understand the sense in which “normalization” is being used here. Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel. Therefore, meeting with an Israeli citizen, including the ambassador, cannot be interpreted as treason.

This is not to deny that there are many points on which we disagree with the Israeli side, especially with regard to the acts of aggression and to crimes committed against the Palestinian people, who are being deprived of their internationally – accepted legitimate rights.

Nevertheless, had Okasha elected to keep his meeting with the Israeli ambassador secret, he would have been in the wrong. Such a meeting should be announced, and people have the right to discuss the topics raised in the meeting.

As for public opinion on the Camp David accords, and what is this so called “normalization”, I would very much like to see a group of experts from various parties and shades of opinion get together to evaluate the peace treaty with Israel from its legal and political aspects, in order to put this matter to rest. The only concern we all have is the good of our country, and how to maintain its status and role in the Middle East.

I have a personal opinion on this matter for which I take full responsibility. If our discussion of so-called “normalization” would lead to boycotting Israel, this would deprive us from playing an effective role in mediating between Israel and Palestine. This role is something we need in order to reach a peace agreement that will provide legitimacy and recognition to a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. This is a role that no one can play but Egypt, a country that has an existing peace treaty with Israel. Such a mediating role, if successful, may raise Egypt’s profile in the bargain.

The assessment of the peace treaty and normalization is also something the Parliament can do. Unfortunately, partisan and prejudiced views have made “shoes” part of the dialogue, thus undermining the ability of the Parliament to play this role.

Let’s be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that having signed a peace treaty with Israel we can no longer treat it as an enemy in the technical sense of the world. Israel may be a rival country or a country with a different viewpoint. But the word “enemy” was erased from our international political lexicon the day we signed the peace treaty in 1979.

translated from Al Bawaba

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