Peace polling improves in Post-Revolutionary Egypt

A new study has indicated that two-thirds of all Egyptians support maintaining the Arab republic’s 1979 peace agreement with Israel.

The poll, conducted by the Egyptian government’s Information and Decision Support Centre (IDSC), showed that 67% of those responding want to uphold the historic Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty signed between Anwar Sadat and Menacham Begin. Of the 1,062 respondents, only 11% want the deal entirely scrapped, 2% want some clauses removed, and 20% declined to respond. Among those surveyed, 56% said they were satisfied with the country’s current situation, and 87% plan to vote in the upcoming presidential election.

The survey brings some relief to Israelis, who have been concerned that a future Egyptian government might try to fundamentally alter the relationship between the two neighboring states. Egyptian public discourse since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, who upheld the agreement throughout his 30 years in power, has tended to associate him with the treaty and refer to it as an additional reason to condemn his despotic rule.

Three months ago a similar survey had very different results. That poll, which was conducted between March 24 and April 7 by Pew Research Centers, showed only 36% of Egyptians supported maintaining the treaty, while 56% wanted to do away with it. That study also displayed a gap in opinion between lower income Egyptians, who largely opposed the peace deal, and those with more money and college education, who mostly did not think the treaty should be scrapped.

Despite the support for the agreement in the latest poll, most analysts believe that the already-chilly peace is likely to get even colder as time passes. The most visible sign of the growing rift was the new government’s decision to end its side of the blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and open the Rafah Crossing.

If Egypt actually does transition to a more democratic form of government, the implications of such surveys may be very important to Israel’s future, given how Israel has made the peace treaty with Egypt a key part of its diplomatic and security strategy over recent decades.