News / Middle East

Israelis, Palestinians Closely Watch Egypt Turmoil

Palestinians carry trays of sweets and an Egyptian flag (C) in front of a placard depicting Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood's presidential candidate Mohamed Morsi in Gaza City, June 18, 2012.
Palestinians carry trays of sweets and an Egyptian flag (C) in front of a placard depicting Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood's presidential candidate Mohamed Morsi in Gaza City, June 18, 2012.
Scott Bobb
JERUSALEM - The political face-off in Egypt between the military and Islamists following the presidential election is being closely watched by Egypt's neighbors in Israel and the Palestinian territories. And as with many issues the viewpoints vary considerably.

Opinions are divided among Israelis and Palestinian groups over future relations with Egypt although all agree those relations will continue to be important.

The Muslim Brotherhood asserted that its candidate, Mohamed Morsi, won the run-off election to be Egypt's next president.  Egypt's governing Supreme Council of the Armed Forces indicated it will accept the result but it has reduced the president's authority and given itself legislative powers while the elected parliament is dissolved.

The decree sets up a possible confrontation between two traditional sources of power, the barracks and the mosque.

An Israeli soldier secures an area near the border between Israel and Egypt, June 18, 2012.An Israeli soldier secures an area near the border between Israel and Egypt, June 18, 2012.
x
An Israeli soldier secures an area near the border between Israel and Egypt, June 18, 2012.
An Israeli soldier secures an area near the border between Israel and Egypt, June 18, 2012.
Peace treaty with Israel

Israel has been watching with concern. Its leaders attach great importance to maintaining the peace treaty signed with Egypt 33 years ago. Despite cool relations, the treaty is the basis for cooperation between the two neighbors in many areas including security, commerce, transportation, energy and diplomacy.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu underscored this view recently.

He says he hopes any government that arises in Egypt, any president elected in Egypt, will choose to honor the peace agreement. He says the peace accord helped Egypt as much as it helped Israel, and he hopes that the next government will understand it is in Egypt's interest no less than Israel's.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which dominated Egypt's now-dissolved parliament, has said it will respect all previous treaties. But some of its members have suggested submitting the Israel treaty to a popular referendum where its future would be much less certain.

The second major Israeli concern is the increasing lawlessness along the border with Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. The upheaval in Egypt has led to a rise in smuggling, human trafficking and terrorist attacks across the border.

A Palestinian analyst in East Jerusalem, Mahdi Abdul Hadi, says Israel is closely following events in Egypt.

"The Israeli government is sitting in a bunker, watching, keeping an eye, trying to infiltrate here and there to get more information and putting [forth] different scenarios, not for today but for five years from now," said the analyst.

Hamas' reaction

The Muslim Brotherhood's assertion of election victory in Egypt brought celebrations in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Islamist Hamas movement.

Hamas leader Ismail Radwan says relations with Egypt have improved since last year's popular uprising brought the Muslim Brothers into the power structure.

He says relations have improved a lot and he hopes what he calls "our big sister" will help break the Israeli blockade on Gaza.

That blockade, imposed five years ago following the Hamas takeover of Gaza, has seriously degraded living conditions in the territory.

The Egyptian government allows goods and construction materials to cross through hundreds of illegal tunnels. But it continues to restrict the movement of goods across the Rafah Crossing to Gaza.

Hamas hopes a new Egyptian government will open up the Rafah Crossing and allow more legal trade.

The rival Fatah Movement, which controls the West Bank and the Palestinian Authority, views the Egyptian election somewhat differently.

Fatah and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas enjoyed good relations with Egypt's ousted president Hosni Mubarak, while the Mubarak government viewed Hamas with suspicion.  Hamas refuses to recognize Israel and is labeled a terrorist group by Western governments.

A Fatah leader in Gaza, Diab Al-Louh, says he hopes Egypt's new leadership will encourage Hamas to moderate its policies, soften its stance on Israel and implement a reconciliation agreement with Fatah.

He says Fatah is committed to what was agreed upon and ready to implement it fully.

A Gaza leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Kayed Ghoul, believes a government led by the Muslim Brotherhood will be pragmatic and focus first on reviving the Egyptian economy which has been battered by 17 months of political upheaval.

He says this reality will reflect on the political positions of the Muslim Brotherhood. They will likely keep the peace agreement with Israel, he says, and try to have Hamas align its positions more with the Brotherhood's.

A senior Hamas leader, Mahmoud Zahar, speaking on the West Bank radio station Rai-FM, said he believes the rise of the Islamists will create a more balanced Egyptian position toward the various Palestinian groups.

He says they will not be like Mubarak regime, pressuring Hamas, closing all the crossings and borders and just allowing Fatah members or the Israelis to pass.

Analyst Abdul Hadi says Egyptian politics is in turmoil. "We are entering a new chapter. Uncertainty lies ahead," said Hadi.

He says this uncertainty lies in many areas.  How will political Islam relate to civil society? What role will Egypt's military play in defending the country and the constitution and balancing the various political groups? And finally, how will the various sectors of society address the growing problems of security and economic distress?

Analysts say it will take time for the turbulence to subside. But they note that Egypt values its relations with the various sides in Israel and the Palestinian territories.  And as a result whatever leadership emerges in Cairo is likely to want to maintain links with all of them.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
June 21, 2012 1:51 PM
In as much as it is in the koran for the muslim to hate Israel, any thinking that Egypt's new leadership will maintain relations with Israel is a pipe dream tantamount to delaying the evil day. Love and peace to the muslim means elimination of Israel even if the devil itself remains and God apportions blessings for loving Israel; an average muslim will prefer to go to hell. But the Nigerian experience should be a learning point for Egypt: Use an arm of the old block to wrestle power from them, afterwards to properly reform and reposition - not while they are still very much around - even though the military here is more sane the Egyptian political class.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid