A Palestinian woman sits on stairs near a mosque in Jerusalem's Old City
The deputy leader of Egypt's dominant political party has poured scorn on the viability Israel, saying the country will cease to exist within a decade.
Essam el-Erian, vice chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, was discussing the Israeli government's controversial plans to build more homes in the Palestinian territory, which have been heavily criticised in the international community.
"Jewish occupiers of the territory of historic Palestine are an obstacle to the Palestinians' right of return. Anyone who can read the future can see that this project has a decade, less than a decade to go, and it is our faith that the people of Palestine can then return to Palestine," el-Erian told the private Egyptian channel ONTV.
The Islamist politician, a key adviser to President Mohammed Mursi, also told the local Dream TV Network, "it is better for Jews to live in a country like Egypt rather than in a country contaminated by occupation. Egyptian Jews should refuse to live under a brutal, bloody and racist occupation stained with war crimes against humanity.
"Every Egyptian has the right to come back to Egypt, no matter what his religion."
Although Egypt played an integral role in brokering a resolution to the recent Israel-Gaza crisis, Erian's remarks could damage relations between Cairo and Tel Aviv.
The Brotherhood was quick to distance itself from Erian's comments, saying they were his personal views. Meanwhile the Israeli government has expressed "disappointment" at the remarks.
Israel Radio said the country expects Egypt to respect its legitimacy, as Tel Aviv has never questioned Cairo in the past.
Erian's remarks have come at a time when Cairo has started interrogating an alleged Israeli spy who illegally entered Egypt.
"An Israel man was arrested on Monday in Taba on suspicion of espionage. He was remanded today in police custody for four days pending investigation," a judicial source told the AFP.
Egypt had earlier claimed that Israeli spies were carrying out attacks in its territory.
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