News / Middle East

Israel Concerned Egypt Upheaval Could Radicalize Arab Neighbors

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country's primary concern is that the current crisis in Egypt could create a void in which Islamic militants put the two countries' three-decade-long peace agreement in jeopardy, during a joint press conf
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country's primary concern is that the current crisis in Egypt could create a void in which Islamic militants put the two countries' three-decade-long peace agreement in jeopardy, during a joint press conf
Meredith Buel

The Israeli government is watching the violent unrest in Egypt - and protests in other Arab countries - with the primary concern that a radically aggressive Islamist regime could take over in Cairo and the political upheaval could spread.

The protests and street clashes in Cairo are redrawing the strategic and political landscape in the Middle East, and Israel is finding itself surrounded by Arab countries and governments facing an uncertain future.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s decision not to run for re-election after three decades in power could have an impact on relations defined by the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

Israeli President Shimon Peres said, "We always have had, and still have, a great respect for President Mubarak, and we do not say everything that he did is right, but he did one thing, which all of us are thankful for him. He kept the peace in the Middle East."

In Israel, which has counted on its more than 30-year-old peace treaty with Egypt for regional stability, the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now confronts a new unknown in the country’s very dangerous neighborhood.

Jordan’s King Abdullah has fired his Cabinet, bowing to public pressure for reform after demonstrations inspired by those in Egypt.  

In the West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered his ministers and other officials not to talk publicly about the situation in Egypt.

Mark Heller, a senior analyst at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, describes Israel’s number one concern. "That a radically aggressive, Islamist regime might take over in Egypt and, among other things, direct its hostility and aggressiveness against Israel."

Tzvica Fogel is a retired brigadier general in the Israel Defense Forces, and is currently a military analyst. He said the prospect of President Mubarak exiting from Egypt’s political leadership is causing the Israeli military to rethink its most significant regional strategic relationship.

Fogel said the military is not necessarily planning on an eventual breaking of the peace agreement with Egypt, but is focusing on the influence of Islamist groups on Israel's borders.

As Fogel put it, "this concentration of terrorist organizations is something that at the moment ought to make us all lose sleep."

Binyamin Ben Eliezer, a former Israeli defense minister, is critical of the United States for advocating a rapid transition in the Egyptian government.

Ben Eliezer said he thinks the Americans do not understand, as he puts it, the tragedy in which they have participated, because, he says, it is endangering the peace process in the Middle East.

Developments in the past five years, including the takeover by the militant Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the rise of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iran’s influence in the region have many Israelis feeling the area is turning even more against them.

Analysts say if Muslim hard-liners take power in Egypt, Israel will feel surrounded in a way it has not been for decades.

Heller said, "In the most extreme case, we could have a situation in which there is a radical force dominating - a radical Sunni force dominating Egypt, a radical Shi’ite force dominating Iran - and an ongoing competition between the two of them to show who is more active and effective in confronting Israel and the United States."

Heller said Israel should make a conscious effort to maintain a low profile during the Arab unrest because almost anything the country says or does probably will be criticized and counterproductive.

NEW: Follow our Middle East stories on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs