Dear friends of Partners for Progressive Israel,
In our fast-paced society, there's often too little room for in-depth exploration of the issues of the day. That's why we're introducing a new email service that will periodically provide background and context for the key developments affecting Israel. Each update will focus on a single topic and will offers news, opinion and analysis that allow for a more nuanced understanding of Israel's complex challenges.
Today, we address the potential effects on Israel of the latest political developments in Egypt. Often referred to as the 'leader of the Arab world', Egypt in March 1979 signed a peace treaty with Israel, which has held up for over three decades, despite Israel's wars and its continuing hold on the Occupied Territories. The shifting political balance in Egypt, however, might be undermining the treaty's stability and affecting regional security, as popular dissatisfaction with the Occupation becomes a more important factor in Egyptian politics, and as the Muslim Brotherhood, the ideological 'parent' of Hamas, sees its influence grow.
Meanwhile, as we write, the outcome of Egyptian Presidential elections between Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsi, and army-affiliated candidate Ahmed Shafik is still "to be determined".
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Potential Shifts in Regional Diplomacy
The New York Times reports that although both candidates have pledged to uphold the treaty with Israel, Brotherhood dominance would mean closer Egyptian ties to Hamas, while Shafik would continue Cairo's patronage of Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah.
On YNet, Alex Fishman warns of the imminent end of the peace treaty. A Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Egypt - which is only a matter of time, he believes - will not tolerate future Israeli actions against Hamas in Gaza.
Haaretz's Zvi Barel counters by positing that the Muslem Brotherhood - if it does take control of Egypt - could turn out to be an "undeclared ally" of Israel and the West on issues such as Iran, Syria and even Hamas' political approach.
Israeli columnist Akiva Eldar argues that, whatever the result of the election, Israel will no longer be able to continue the Occupation under the cover of tacit Egyptian acquiescence.
Military Tensions around Sinai
In developments on the ground, Israeli security officials believe that the June 15 rocket attack from Sinai was carried out via Hamas, but at the request of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.
Israel, the New York Times writes, has been treading carefully in its response. It doesn't want to be seen as interfering in Egyptian affairs, and certainly wants to avoid another crisis with Egypt - such as the one last August when an Israeli 'hot pursuit' led to the death of five Egyptian soldiers.
In the meantime, there are indications that the military regime in Cairo is ramping up its efforts to maintain security in Sinai, arresting a predominantly-Palestinian terror ring there in recent days.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/report-egypt-busts-sinai-terror-ring-amid-run-off-presidential-elections.premium-1.436858 (A fuller report in Hebrew can be found here.)