Looking across Sinai: Israel’s View of Egypt
President Barack Obama arrived in Israel this morning. During the many hours he will spend with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other political and military leaders, items at the top of the discussion agenda include the Syrian civil war, the Iranian nuclear program, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, another focus is likely to be the Israeli-Egyptian relationship. For over three decades, the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty has been a pillar of US-Middle East policy. The President's visit is a worthwhile moment to assess the status of that relationship.
Since the Egyptian uprising began two years ago, Israel has looked warily at the “Islamist winter” enveloping its borders. In meetings in Israel earlier this year, government officials, analysts, and journalists expressed significantly more skepticism of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s powerful Islamist organization, than is usually heard in Washington. The United States is still getting a feel for the Brotherhood, which offers vague promises to maintain Egypt’s international obligations.
Israeli officials, however, take at face value Brotherhood officials’ open hatred of Israel and their rhetorical support of violence against it, including from Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi before his election. Israelis focus on the historic connection between the Gaza’s ruling Hamas—with which Israel went to war mere months ago—and the Muslim Brotherhood, now in power in Cairo.
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