President Obama has already expressed support for the protesters opposing Hosni Mubarak's authoritarian regime in Egypt. But now the US is being called on by one of its closest allies, Israel, to hold off on criticizing Mubarak and consider promoting stability instead. Much talk of Mubarak's potential ouster is accompanied by the notion that the Muslim Brotherhood will take over the government. Israel's fear right now is that with the loss of Mubarak comes the loss of Israel's peace treaty with Egypt, in place since 1979. Haaretz's Barak Ravid reports that the Israeli government is worried about the safety of the country without Egypt as an ally. Others following the debate, though, aren't convinced Israel has anything to worry about.
- The Muslim Brotherhood Admittedly Anti-Israel In an interview with Khaled Hamza, the editor of the Muslim Brotherhood's official website, World Policy Blogger Michael Downey asks what kind of stance a Brotherhood government would take on Israel and Palestine. Hamza answers: "We think Israel is an occupation force and is not fair to the Palestinians. We do not believe in negotiation with Israel. As the Muslim Brotherhood, we must resist all this. Did you see what they do in Gaza, on the flotilla? Israel is a very dangerous force and we must resist. Resistance is the only way, negotiation is not useful at all." He also told the blogger that the group does not consider Israel to be a state and would help anti-Israel groups like Hamas if in a position of government. He does add, though, that if Israel were to completely withdraw from the West Bank, "we can make something like a secular state and have elections and we can see."
- But Would They Give Up U.S. Aid? The Guardian's Ian Black points out that Egypt's commitment to the peace treaty has been motivated largely by financial and military support from the US. But Israel fears that without Mubarak in charge, the peace will collapse. He writes, "the nightmare scenario would be abrogation of the peace treaty under pressure from an Egyptian public that has always been hostile to it, though the US would likely work hard to prevent that."
- No Treaty Does Not Mean War The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg addresses the question of a possible Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt and what that might mean for the future of Israel. He reminds readers that the Brotherhood assuming the presidency and other governmental roles is not necessarily guaranteed, though it is possible, and if it happens the peace treaties dissolution is almost inevitable. The result of this, however, may not be war. The Egyptian army, he predicts, motivated by U.S. funding and weaponry, will continue to act as a stabilizer between the two countries.
- Israel is Not the Point John Podhoretz at the New York Post is optimistic that the end of the Mubarak regime will also uncover and end "40-plus years of wrong-headed thinking about the causes of Middle East instability among the world's foreign-policy cognoscenti." Basically, he argues that the tumultuous relationship between Israel and the Arabs in Palestine is no longer at the core of the Middle East's problems. While the Israel-Palestine issue is a sensitive and important one for Arabs throughout the region, he is unsure that if this problem were solved with, say two sovereign states, protesters would not be ravaging the streets of Cairo right now. As for how this will play out for Israel?
There's little reason to feel optimistic that the resulting regimes will be friendlier toward Israel and good reason to fear their ideological predilections may pose a renewed threat. We should face the future without illusions--like the strangely comforting mirage that there was a regional solution that ran through Israel, a mirage that gulled foreign-policymakers for four decades.
- Israel Doesn't Need the Treaty Anyway The Booman Tribune argues that the peace treaty isn't necessary to protect Israel from attack by Egypt. "It was still plausible in 1979 that Egypt might threaten Israel again. It's not plausible anymore," he clarifies. "Israel is now a clearly a nuclear-armed country, and their military is much stronger now relative to Egypt than it was in the 1970's." The treaty isn't necessary for military reasons, but "for the purposes of public relations and world opinion. The status quo allows Israel to continue the fiction that they are working towards a peaceful conclusion of the Palestinian question."
- Israel Is Sending the Wrong Message David Dayen at liberal Firedoglake thinks Israel's effort to encourage other countries to support Mubarak in the face of opposition from his citizens is like saying: “Rats to Women and Children: Stay on This Sinking Ship!” He notes the Knesset has already received support in this effort from Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, observing that "this may seem like the right wing is in a pickle, caught between defending freedom and defending dictatorship. But I think they're just working to define the new reality, and getting an early start on denouncing whatever following Mubarak in Egypt as a radical Islamist puppet government."
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