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Friday, January 28, 2011

Wishful thinking?

This is from a New York Times article on how what's going on in Egypt is being viewed in Israel (Hat Tip: Daily Alert).
Though the peace, Israel’s first with an Arab partner, has remained cold — Egyptian civil society still boycotts Israel — the relationship is viewed here as critical. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, confers regularly with Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak; they met most recently on Jan. 6 in the Sinai resort of Sharm el Sheik for what another official described as strategic discussions.

“Egypt is not only our closest friend in the region,” Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a veteran Israeli politician and former defense minister known for his close ties to senior Egyptian officials, told Army Radio on Wednesday, “the cooperation between us goes beyond the strategic.”

Israeli officials and analysts said they believed that Mr. Mubarak’s government was strong enough to withstand the protests, at least as long as it had the backing of the Egyptian Army.

But with Mr. Mubarak, who came to power in 1981, now an ailing octogenarian, Israelis were in any case looking ahead to a transition of some sort in Egypt, amid a sense of a shifting regional equilibrium.


Israelis were not yet envisaging a future without the peace treaty with Egypt. Mr. Eran said that almost any government in Egypt would want to maintain the pact, even at a low profile, because so much is hinged on it, including Egypt’s relations with, and aid from, the United States.

At least in the short term, Israelis did not see a need for panic. At the same time, officials here were cautious about making long-term predictions. After Mr. Mubarak leaves the stage, one said, “We have no idea what will happen.”
Read the whole thing.

I wish I could share Eran's relative optimism. I can't. Most of Egyptian society - as Isabel Kershner points out in the Times - still hates us. It goes without saying that the Muslim Brotherhood would abrogate or ignore the treaty. But Egypt's great white hope - Mohamed ElBaradei - was known for his contempt of Israel when he was at the IAEA. The way I see it, we are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to Egypt, and any outcome is likely to leave us facing open hostility - or at least even less cooperation than exists today - to our south. And the answer to my "what can go wrong" question is "lots."

The fundamental problem is that although we made peace with the Egyptian leadership, we never made peace with the Egyptian people, who were left out of the process. That is true in Jordan as well, and as Palileaks has shown, it would be true if we made peace with the 'Palestinian Authority' today. In the long run, we are probably better off that Palileaks is the last nail in the coffin of the 'peace process' with the 'Palestinians.'

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At 11:38 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Most Israelis have their heads in the sand about Egypt... Mubarak was probably the best Israel could expect but whoever succeeds him will be even more hostile. The kind of wishful thinking prevalent in Israel does not prepare the country to face the challenges of an Arab World in the throes of rapid change.


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