By Mick Krever, CNN
Amid concerns about its decades-long peace treaty with Israel, a top Egyptian cabinet official said on Thursday that the pact was “not at all” in jeopardy.
Egypt yesterday recalled its ambassador to Israel in response to Israel’s targeted killing of a Hamas military commander in Gaza – an attack that President Mohamed Morsy called an “unacceptable” aggression.
“We are abiding by our legal obligations but we are active to help establishing real peace in the area,” Mohamed Refa'a al-Tahtawi, the chief of the Egyptian presidential cabinet, told CNN’s Hala Gorani.
“We cannot be indifferent human sufferings,” he said. “Respecting a peace treaty does not mean to stay idle or indifferent to what is going on along our borders.”
Tahtawi will accompany Egypt’s prime minister, Hesham Kandil, on a trip to Gaza on Friday. He said he hoped that, if nothing else, the visit would “stop the escalation at least for some time.”
Israel and Hamas in Gaza have exchanged rocket fire for the past several days, with casualties on both sides.
Responding to criticism over the Gaza strike, Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor told Gorani that Israel made the right decision in killing the Hamas commander, Ahmed al-Jabari.
“The world is a better and a safer place without him running around,” Prosor said, “and we will be able to achieve better understanding between people when these people are out of the way.”
Tahtawi called the Israel’s attack a “miscalculation,” and told Gorani that he said as much to the Israeli government.
“I warned our Israeli partners that if [they] continue along the path of escalation and violence this would backfire and they would be the first losers,” Tahtawi said.
Israel has no interest in escalation, Prosor told Gorani, but would not stand for living under constant threat from Hamas. Prosor said he helped oversee Israel's leaving Gaza in 2005 and hoped he would never have to look back.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that if rockets fall on your head, you are allowed to defend yourself,” he said. “This is what Israel is doing.”
Egypt has positioned itself as a mediator of the conflict, and Tahtawi said his government was working with both Israel and Hamas to prevent escalation.
“It is in the interest of everybody to restore just peace,” he said.
Ambassador Prosor, while expressing a desire for peace, was resolute in his view of the Gaza’s leadership.
“At the end of the day,” he said, “you won’t be able to achieve peace if you have terrorists like Hamas ruling the game.”