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End peace with Israel say Egyptians

More than half of all Egyptians would like to see the 1979 peace treaty with Israel annulled, according to a survey.

The poll, conducted by the US-based Pew Research Centre, highlights the deep unpopularity of the three-decade-old treaty, which is central to US policy in the region and was adhered to scrupulously by former president Hosni Mubarak, until he was ousted on February 11.

The poll also revealed that most Egyptians were optimistic about where the country was heading following the 18-day popular uprising that brought down the president, and they looked forward to greater democracy in their country.

The fall of Egypt's autocratic leader and the rise of a more democratic system, however, could threaten relations with neighbouring Israel.

According to the poll results, only 36% of Egyptians are in favour of maintaining the treaty, compared with 54% who would like to see it scrapped.

Despite the decades of peace and limited trade between the two countries, most Egyptians view the Israelis poorly, largely because of perceptions that they mistreat the Palestinians.

Opinions varied according to income, with 60% of lower-income Egyptians supporting the treaty's cancellation while only 45% of the wealthier classes thinking it should be done away with. Only 40% of Egyptians with a college education felt the treaty should be scrapped.

The poll, based on interviews with 1,000 Egyptians around the country, was conducted between March 24 and April 7 as part of the spring 2011 Pew Global Attitudes survey held in 22 countries. The poll has a sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.

The country's youth-led pro-democracy movement, which rocked Egypt and reworked the political environment, had a dramatic effect on people's attitudes. The polls show a major rise in optimism and changing of national priorities.

In 2007, Egyptian were evenly split over which was more important, a strong leader or democracy, but in the recent poll 64% rated democracy higher.

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