Short-Lived Unity in Israel

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Earlier this week Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly allowed about 800 Egyptian troops to deploy around Sharm el-Sheikh at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula.

Some reports said Bedouin in the area—as part of the unrest now roiling Egypt—were challenging the Egyptian authorities there and needed to be quelled. The demilitarization of Sinai—from which Egypt attacked Israel in the 1948, 1967, and 1973 wars—is a central plank of the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. It was maintained for three decades—until now.

That is not to say Sinai’s demilitarization has made life easy for Israel. Particularly since the latter’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005, Sinai has been a smuggling route where missiles and other weaponry originating in Iran make their way to Hamas in Gaza. More recently it has also been a route where illegal African migrants—smuggled, like the weapons, by gangs of Sinai Bedouin—make their way into Israel, creating serious social and crime problems in some of its cities.

Still, to most Israelis these have seemed prices worth paying in return for the Israeli-Egyptian peace—or lack of military hostilities—that has prevailed since the peace treaty was signed. This week’s remilitarization of Sinai—even if at a small, symbolic level, and done to help the Mubarak regime preserve control at a moment of crisis—rouses specters for Israelis already rattled by fears of that regime’s dissolution.

Indeed, Aluf Benn, an Israeli columnist who drew some attention this week for calling Barack Obama “the president who lost Egypt,” sees the remilitarization as irreversible:

The Egyptians view the restrictions to their sovereignty in Sinai that were established in the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty as a painful blow to their national pride. Now they have taken advantage of the situation and redeployed their army in the demilitarized peninsula. No future government in Cairo will return this force to the other side of Suez.

That is not to say Benn is critical of Netanyahu’s move: whereas “the ideologue in [him],” he claims, “would certainly have advocated holding steadfast to the letter of the treaty…Netanyahu the statesman opted to sideline the demilitarization arrangements, fearing what would happen if angry masses took over the Straits of Tiran and were in a position to threaten Israel’s freedom of navigation to [its southern port of] Eilat.”

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  • WildJew

    Many on the right have argued, giving up the Sinai at Camp David was a terrible mistake. In the coming months, I believe it will increasingly become apparent. Israel needs the Sinai for security reasons. Hamas, emboldened by U.S. President Hussein courting Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, fired Grad rockets on western Negev cities Monday. Ultimately Israel should re-occupy the Sinai and Gaza for her own security. Otherwise she will find herself in an untenable situation with enemies poised to attack from the east, the north and the south.

  • Gerard Ekofo

    Americans, Americans.. Wake up!!! Crying out loud! Your country has becomed the most corrupt country in the world, That babylon the great…. Your government are tying Isael hands while encouraging the radical muslims in taking over the world.. Your encouraging one the most criminal exercising president Kagamé and his puppet Jospeph kabila to spoile, rappe and kill the people who are naturally friendly to americans… You are rewarding your natural ennemis and punishing your natural friends all aver the world. Worse of all, You have elected your worst nightmare in the white house to bring an end to your great country turned evil… an african who weep for your sake..

  • Gerard Ekofo

    Congolese people have been weeping( 6 millions Dead in RDcongo) over 14 years because of a war…started by Kagamé with the blessing and backing of Bill Clinton to overthrwon the old regime and Hijacked the democratic process.. Now, With Obama help, You want the muslims brotherwood to take over Egypt so Israel can be encircled and destroy.. I have a bad news for you, Unless all the people really repent and get rid of all your Corrupt politicians, You will be destroy by the same people you are trying to appease but Israel will survive and overcome all his ennemis.. It's evident that there is curse over your land.. as you are calling evil good and good evil..