Is the Peace Treaty Between Israel and Egypt Finished?

[Khaled Abu Toameh]

Summary ... The deterioration in relations between Israel and Egypt should serve as a reminder to all that the new generation in the Arab world is not marching toward moderation, particularly when it comes to making peace with Israel or even recognizing its right to exist.

Those who had hoped that the pro-democracy revolution that toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak would not affect relations between Egypt and Israel now need to realize that they were wrong.

In the post-Mubarak era, many Egyptians who helped bring down the regime are also strongly opposed to maintaining the peace treaty with Israel.

Egypt's new rulers know exactly what their people think about the peace treaty with Israel. The Supreme Military Council, the de facto government in Egypt, does not dare go against the will of the Tahrir Square demonstrators.

If the demonstrators want Mubarak and his sons thrown into prison, the military rulers will comply. And if the demonstrators want Egypt to stop selling natural gas to Israel, there is no doubt that the military council will have to do something about it.

The Egyptian authorities already announced this week that they would review gas deals with Israel.

Egypt's new rulers are clearly afraid of the young protesters in Tahrir Square, especially when it comes to dealing with Israel. Perhaps that explains why an Egyptian military court has just sentenced 25-year-old "pro-Israel" Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil to three years in prison.

That also explains why Egyptian soldiers ran away when hundreds of "pro-democracy" demonstrators attacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo a few days ago and set fire to an Israeli flag. The soldiers had been assigned to guard the embassy, but "disappeared" as soon as the protesters showed up.

But it is not only the gas deals that worry the ostensibly moderate Facebook generation in Egypt. They do not want to see the Israeli embassy reopened. Nor do they want to see Israeli diplomats returning to Cairo.

Instead, the Egyptians want their government to lift the blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The Facebook and Twitter demonstrators would rather see a Hamas ambassador sitting in the Israeli embassy in Cairo.

Even before Mubarak was forced to step down in February, there were signs that the anti-government demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square were also strongly opposed to any forms of relations with Israel.

Back then, eyewitnesses reported that some of the demonstrators had burned Israeli and American flags and chanted slogans against Israel and the US. The anti-Israel and anti-US protests received little coverage, if at all, in the Western media.

Alarmed by the protests, Israel ordered its diplomats and their families to leave Cairo and the embassy was closed. To avoid "provoking" the pro-democracy Facebook generation in Egypt, Israel even removed its flag from the embassy building.

Moreover, given the fact that the tone in the Egyptian media remains extremely anti-Israel, it is hard to see how the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt would survive. The deterioration in relations between Israel and Egypt should serve as a sad reminder to all that the new generation in the Arab world is not marching toward moderation, particularly when it comes to making peace with Israel or even recognizing its right to exist.

[ Published: April 20, 2011 ]

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