Cairo – Egyptian opposition groups on Sunday called for arresting Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on “war crimes” when he visits Egypt this week.
Representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Kifaya (Enough) coalition, along with a number of independent politicians filed a report to state prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud demanding the immediate arrest of Netanyahu when he arrives in Egypt Monday for talks with President Hosny Mubarak.
The Brotherhood and Kifaya are considered Egypt’s largest opposition groups. In 2005 parliamentary elections, the Brotherhood won 20 per cent of the popular vote.
“Our demand is based on a number of international reports about the Israeli offensive on Gaza, including the Goldstone report,” said opposition journalist Abdel-Halim Qandil, the current head of the Kifaya coalition.
The fact-finding mission of Justice Richard Goldstone last year charged that war crimes may have taken place during the 2008-2009 three-week-long Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip, which left some 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.
At the time, Netanyahu was not prime minister.
“We also filed a separate legal memorandum reviewing evidence of Netanyahu’s war crimes in Gaza based on international laws,” Qandil added.
Meeting at the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Sheikh, Netanyahu and Mubarak are expected to discuss Palestinian-Israeli “proximity” talks, which Washington said will resume next week.
On Saturday, the Arab League gave its blessing to the indirect talks. Egypt has been a key player in the negotiations, which were suspended in late 2008.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed al-Beltagi said that the report is a “a political message to emphasize that receiving Netanyahu in Sharm al-Sheikh is rejected by the people.”
The independent-daily al-Masry al-Youm on Saturday quoted Egypt’s ambassador to Israel, Yasser Reda, as saying that “the Egyptian opposition isn’t opposed to the peace treaty or Israel.”
“Those people don’t want war. Most of the world wants peace,” he said at a Tel Aviv University after expressing his hopes of seeing a football match played between the Egyptian and Israeli national teams in the near future.
Despite being the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, the question of normalizing relations remains a hot topic of debate in Egypt, where many reject the idea of direct relations with Israel.