Monday, February 21, 2011

What To Look For In Egyptian-Israeli Relations

I think that it would be appropriate for the Right Speak community to discuss the future of Israeli-Egyptian Relations. This is an issue that I hope the future 2012'ers will discuss in a thoughtful manner. This was originally posted at The Cross Culturalist.
Change is a-coming. What kind of change and to what extent is a different story.
M. M. Lieberman of the Jerusalem Post has written a fairly good piece on what to expect in the future between Egypt and Israel. For Lieberman, two important features of the peace agreement are at stake: (1.) The ban against Egyptian troops occupying the Sinai Peninsula and (2.) the continued sell of Egyptian gas to Israel.
Of course, that is not all. There are also a whole host of other issues to work through like the interdiction of arms to Hamas in Israel, the presence of refuges in the Gaza Strip, and the transit of warships through the Suez Canal.
According to Jeff Strabone, the sell of gas and Egyptian border security ring the most important to Israel.
Israel's blockade of Gaza since 2007 continues to produce suffering on an epic scale, as measured by its 70 percent poverty rate (CIA), its 65 percent infant anemia rate, (WHO), the pitifully low 60 percent of its population whose homes are connected to sewage systems (ICRC), and so on. This blockade would not be enforceable without Egypt's assistance.
Nor would Israel be able to meet its energy needs without the Arish-Ashkelon Pipeline from Egypt. A special Israel-devoted branch of the Arab Gas Pipeline, it supplies 40 percent of Israel's natural gas. As reported by Forbes on February 5, the pipeline has been disrupted by a mysterious explosion. Coincidence?
Israel's greatest fear about a democratic Egypt may be that Mubarak's successor—Pan-Arabist, Islamist, or whatever—could threaten to end the blockade and turn off the gas until Israel allows the Palestinians to form their own sovereign state.
(Yes, Israel has recently discovered large natural-gas fields, named Tamar and Leviathan, but neither is operational yet.)
What we can expect from a future Egyptian government is one that is less friendly to Israel than Mubarak had been. But as Strabone has pointed out, Mubarak was a paid friend that was not in step with public opinion regarding Israel. In recent weeks, there has been a flood of democratic favor sweeping across the Arab world that is out of American and Israeli control. Now, the challenge will be to deal with that democratic surge in a way that will lead to Israeli security.

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