Akiva Eldar: The End of Israeli Impunity

Roundup: Media's Take

Akiva Eldar is the chief political columnist and an editorial writer for Haaretz. His columns also appear regularly in the Ha'aretz-Herald Tribune edition.

Mohamed Morsi, chairman of the Egyptian Freedom and Justice Party, and Ahmed Shafik, a former prime minister, will both seek public support on the June 16–17 runoff election. They have little in common. Mr. Morsi represents the theocratic agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, while Mr. Shafik, who belongs to the old guard of President Mubarak's regime, offers a secular program. Yet there is one theme that unites the two finalists, as well as most other candidates who were dropped in the first round: they all strongly criticize the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and Israel’s settlement policy. Both have declared that if Israel will not get involved in serious negotiations with the Palestinians on the two-state solution, Egypt will feel free to review the Camp David accord, signed in September 1978 by President Anwar el-Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin.

It is too early to predict what they mean by "reviewing" the accords. It will be difficult to cool further the diplomatic, cultural and economic relationship between the countries. Relations have been nearly frozen since Mubarak’s removal from office. A long-standing deal under which Israel was supplied with Egyptian natural gas is practically dead. The Israeli embassy in Cairo was ransacked by an angry mob last September. Israeli journalists are not allowed to visit Egypt, and very few businessmen dare to enter the country. On a different level, Egypt is leading the Arab diplomatic campaign calling on the international community to force Israel to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Since Egypt and Israel have a mutual interest in preventing Al Qaeda from penetrating into the Sinai Peninsula, it is unlikely that the new government in Cairo will cut the lines of communication between Egypt and Israeli intelligence. The new president will learn soon enough that a decision to violate the peace treaty with Israel will spur a decision by the U.S. Congress to cut the generous economic support that Egypt has been enjoying as a result of this treaty. Added tensions between Cairo and Jerusalem could also affect Egypt's access to American weapons.

Knowing that, Israel takes into consideration that even after more than thirty years, the peace treaty with Egypt remains a contract between leaderships and not between the two peoples...

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