In previous times of upheaval, Washington could count on a strong ally in Cairo. Despite his abysmal democracy and human rights record, Mubarak played a key role over his three-decade autocracy in promoting Arab-Israeli peace and helping the U.S. fight al-Qaida and contain the influence of Iran. U.S.-Egyptian cooperation has waned on all fronts since Mubarak’s February ouster, but Toner said Thursday that Egypt will uphold the 1979 Camp David Accords with the Jewish state.
‘‘We believe the government of Egypt remains committed to its peace treaty with Israel,’’ he said.
Still, Morsi’s public comments thus far have inspired little confidence. U.S. officials say they've been confused by Morsi’s messaging but remain hopeful that his government will impress upon Gaza’s militant leaders the need for a cease-fire. His comments were less inflammatory, however, than the head of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, who referred to Israel as ‘‘the project of the devil’’ in a speech Thursday in Sudan.
Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, is in a tight spot of his own. Opponents at home want him to take a stronger stand against Israel, but many in the establishment fear greater friction with the U.S., which provides Egypt with $1.5 billion in aid each year. That money is dependent on Egypt upholding its peace deal with Israel, one of the Obama administration’s key remaining elements of leverage in a changing Middle East.
The Senate late Thursday approved a resolution expressing ‘‘vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security and survival of the state of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders.’’ The non-binding measure, approved by voice vote, also recognizes Israel’s ‘‘right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism.’’
Associated Press writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.