The top leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood denounced peace efforts with Israel and urged holy war to liberate Palestinian territories on Thursday – one day after the country’s president, who hails from the movement, mediated a cease-fire between Israelis and Palestinians to end eight days of fierce fighting.
“The enemy knows nothing but the language of force,” said Mohammed Badie. “Be aware of the game of grand deception with which they depict peace accords,” he said in a statement carried on the group’s website and emailed to reporters.
His statement was a sharp deviation from the role played by President Mohammed Morsi in the last week. Egypt’s role in brokering the deal has been hailed by U.S. officials.
The Brotherhood sometimes delivers conflicting messages, depending on its audience. There are also ideological and generational divisions within the movement, with older leaders like Badie often seen as more conservative.
The Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t recognize Israel and – at least officially – its members refuse to hold direct talks with Israeli officials. But Morsi has said that he will abide by the terms of Egypt’s 1979 treaty with Israel, and many members say they are in little hurry to enter into armed conflict with the Jewish state.
Badie declared that “jihad is obligatory” for Muslims. But he also said that taking up arms would be the “last stage,” only after Muslims achieved unity. “The use of force and arms while the group is fragmented and disconnected, unorganized, weak in conviction, with faint faith – this will be destined for death.”
In the meantime, he called on Muslims to “back your brothers in Palestine. Supply them with what they need, seek victory for them in all international arenas.” Badie’s title – General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood – also implies a leadership role in the Islamist group’s sister movements across the world.
Under the deal, Gaza’s ruling Hamas is to stop rocket fire into Israel while Israel is to cease attacks and allow the opening of the strip’s long-blockaded borders.
The Hamas-Israel fighting was the first major international test for Morsi, who was caught between either supporting Hamas, one of the Egyptian Brotherhood’s sister movements, and Cairo’s regional and international commitments.