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Brotherhood says won't impose view on Israel treaty

Egypt to open Gaza border crossing

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's best-organized political force, said on Friday any decision on the country's peace treaty with Israel was up to the Egyptian people and it would not impose its view on them, as Egypt decided to open the Rafah border crossing to Gaza.

"The decision on the treaty does not belong to the Brotherhood, it belongs to the entire Egyptian people," said Essam al-Erian, a spokesman for the Islamist group, in an interview with Al Arabiya.

The top U.S. intelligence official said this week the Brotherhood probably did not favor the Camp David treaty -- the 1979 accord that made Egypt the first Arab state to make peace with Israel and restored the Sinai to Egyptian control.

"The important thing is the position of the Egyptian people and not the Brotherhood," Erian said. "The Brotherhood will not impose their vision on the Egyptian people. The Brotherhood are part of society that accepts what the Egyptians accept and nobody can wipe out a treaty with a pen," he added.

Speaking about the Brotherhood during a U.S. Senate hearing on Wednesday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said: "I would assess that they are not in favor of the treaty".

Erian did not set out the Brotherhood's position on the accords, signed on behalf of Egypt by President Anwar Sadat in 1979. Peace with Israel was a defining feature of the era of President Hosni Mubarak, who was forced to step down last week by a popular uprising.

Egypt's military, which has close defense ties to the United States, is currently running the country. It has said it remains committed to Egypt's international and regional treaties.

An Egyptian security official, meanwhile, said that Egypt will open the Rafah border crossing to Gaza -- shut since anti-regime protests erupted on Jan. 25 -- but only to allow Palestinians to enter the enclave.

The crossing will be open on Friday from 7:00 pm to 9:00pm (1700 GMT to 1900 GMT) and on Saturday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm (0900 GMT to 1400 GMT), the official told AFP.

"Palestinians who have been stranded in Egypt will be able to return to Gaza, but those in Gaza will not be allowed to enter Egypt," the official said. "It will start to open up gradually," he added.

Erian also said the Brotherhood supported the opening of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, opened only sporadically for people to cross by the Egyptian authorities.

Egypt opposed the idea of opening the crossing for the passage of goods, arguing it would push Gaza ever more into Egypt's orbit and relieve Israel of its responsibilities as occupying power.

The Brotherhood was one of the vocal critics of Egypt's cooperation with Israel in blockading the Gaza Strip, which is governed by the Hamas Islamist group. Hamas shares the ideology of the Brotherhood.

Erian said: "I think that the injustice imposed on the people of Gaza must be lifted, the crossing must be opened, and Egypt must not take part in killing and starving an entire people under siege."