ElBaradei: If elected, I’ll halt natural gas exports to Israel

During an interview Wednesday with a private Egyptian satellite television station, presidential hopeful Mohamed ElBaradei declared that if he is elected president, he will halt natural gas exports to Israel or any other country, as Egypt is in dire need of natural gas and suffering from an energy crisis.

ElBaradei said that he is ready to engage in public debate with any presidential candidate, claiming that it is time to stop talking about candidates' personalities and to begin a more substantive conversation about political platforms.

He accused the domestic non-print media of practicing “intellectual thuggery” and blamed them for playing a role in lowering the collective awareness of Egyptians, noting that the majority of the country cannot read or write, and therefore depends on television and radio for its news.

ElBaradei committed to improving the media if elected president, promising to establish a national board of trustees that will be administered by an independent and popularly elected body, similar to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

He continued that Hazem Abdel Azim not being named minister of telecommunications in the new cabinet – following security reports surfacing that he had conducted business deals with Israel – was a significant loss and step backwards for the country. He noted that such leaks indicate a continued atmosphere of a police state, as the decision not to appoint Abdel Azim came on the heels of his severe criticism of the State Security Investigation Services. Though officially disbanded, the agency continues today as the National Security Agency.

ElBaradei also addressed the Tahrir Square protesters, saying, "I understand your reasons for protesting, especially after the death of all the martyrs.”

“It is very important to rebuild the confidence between the people on the one hand and the military, security services and government on the other, through clear and specific actions, such as holding speedy trials for corrupt members of the former regime," he went on.

"I do not need to go to Tahrir Square. The important thing now is to unify the people,” ElBaradei responded to a question of why he has not yet attended the protests. “Prior to the revolution, my main role was to raise awareness, since everyone was united; however, now leading the revolution is more important than igniting it."

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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