Israel’s defense minister said Saturday that initial results from Egypt’s parliamentary elections are “very, very disturbing.”
Few official results have been released from the first round vote, but leaked counts point to a clear majority for Islamist parties led by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he hopes Egypt’s first parliament to be seated after the ouster of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak will respect international treaties, including its shaky 1979 peace treaty with Israel.
Israel’s main fear is the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been cool to the peace treaty and has close ties with Gaza Strip’s rulers, Hamas. The election is being held in stages and the final outcome won't be known until next year.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Ben Dor said Israel is not surprised by the Muslim Brotherhood's initial election gains and is convinced the Israel-Egypt peace treaty will remain intact.
“We respect the election results in Egypt. This is the Egyptian people’s choice,” Ben Dor said.
Meanwhile, Hamas on Saturday welcomed early indications of election success for Islamist parties in neighboring Egypt.
“It is a very good result...it will mean more and more support for Palestinian issues,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum told AFP. “The relationship of the next regime in Egypt with the Palestinians will be very good.”
Partial results emerging on Saturday for areas of Egypt that voted in record numbers showed that in Port Said, the moderate Islamist alliance led by the previously banned Muslim Brotherhood triumphed with 32.5 percent of votes for parties, while the hardline Salafist al-Nur party won 20.7 percent.
In the southern Red Sea district, the Brotherhood’s alliance reached 30 percent, while secular coalition the Egyptian Bloc came in second with 15 percent, Egyptian newspaper reports said.
Barhum said the Egyptian poll results and Islamic gains in Tunisia, like Hamas’s own landslide win in 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, served notice to the West that its attempts to politically marginalize Islam were failing.
“We’re asking the United States and Europe to respect the Egyptian people’s democracy,” he said.
In a statement on a Hamas website, top Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk said that “the Egyptian people have voiced their confidence in the Islamists. ... We do believe that Egyptian support in the future will be more for our cause.”