Israel’s Sinai Dilemmas

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That, notes Bismuth,

is perhaps the most worrying aspect of this entire story: Israel expects Egypt to confront what is happening in Sinai and regain control over the area…. No one knows though what the future will hold and what events can unfold in a region that is turning into a powder keg….

[Morsi] can assign the army the “dirty deed” of cooperating with Israel, which is its job anyway. We can still trust the Egyptian military tomorrow, but no one can promise us we’ll be able to two days from now.

In other words, by allowing the Egyptian military—if it is so inclined—to clean up the Sinai terror gangs, Israel could help create an even worse threat, especially if Morsi’s Brotherhood eventually wrests control from the Supreme Military Council.

Israeli officials are, however, reportedly skeptical that Egypt will systematically crack down on the terror. If not, then Israel could find itself facing a different dilemma if the attacks continue and especially if some of them succeed: whether to keep relying on defensive measures that may prove inadequate, or invade Sinai (like Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008-2009 when terror from those locales became intolerable) and risk—again—war with Egypt, which is what the terrorists are trying to provoke in the first place.

And the final irony is that these close-to-irresolvable dilemmas Israel now faces stem from the 1979 peace treaty, under whose terms Israel withdrew all of its forces from Sinai in the hope that this would enable peace rather than terror. A body known as the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) was created and stationed in Sinai to make sure things went smoothly. It’s still there—though hardly mentioned anymore and basically forgotten.

All this at a time when some are still obsessed with the idea of Israel withdrawing from the West Bank and setting up—with security guarantees, of course—yet another Arab state there. Take the strategic threat Sinai now poses to relatively scantly populated southern Israel, think of the axis of central Israel running from the coastal plain to Jerusalem, and multiply by a few dozen.

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  • Bamaguje

    It's all part of the Arab spring…
    Islamists getting bolder by the day… Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Syria.
    Israel should retake the Sinai where Moses received the ten commandments.
    Camp David accord was a grievious mistake.

    • Larry

      Agree, take the Sinai back, then punt all the terrorists, terrorist supporters and enablers, trainee terrorists etc in the place, as well as in Gaza, Judea and Samaria.

      They are a problem created by the arab world, let the arab world deal with it and sort it out.

      • Pacifist1

        I agree with the terrorists evicted; there will be no violence, and thus not being able to organize politically or socially in global way…making the world more peaceful, civilized, and free.

    • Mensch Keymelon

      The indigenous tribes should retake their lands entirely. Send the others packing.

      • gravenimage

        Once again, "Mensch Keymelon" pretends that Jews are not indigenous to Israel, and calls for the destruction of that vibrant democracy.

        What would Muslims turn "Palestine" into? Just another failed Shari'ah state…

  • Indioviejo

    It truly is a dilemma for Israel, but one it can not afford to ignore until it festers. Israel needs to lance this boil sooner than latter. God speed, Israel.

  • mrbean

    This tells you that the terrorists have no problem killing their fellow Musilms and that spells troubles in the not too distant future with terrorist elements in Gaza, Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria once they have their supporters and sponsors in power in these countries.

  • Mensch Keymelon

    All this "axis" verbiage…why not just throw a couple 'zeig heils" in their to really overdo the metaphor?

  • Drakken

    Funny you should say that unter mensch, your hezbollah and hamas friends give the nazi salute all the time.

  • Raymond in DC

    I'm fairly confident that Israel could pacify the Sinai with less than seven battalions. That Egypt seems incapable of doing so suggests a lack of will. Ah, but when they want to act, they seem capable. Note how for years they've insisted they can't close down the weapons smuggling tunnels. Now apparently they can if it's to prevent terrorists sneaking out to kill Egyptians!

    Egypt may well be playing the "weakness" card Arafat used so effectively, to demand the right to remilitarize the Sinai, bit by bit. 750 a few years ago. Then the need for another 750. Then a few more battalions. Then a few helicopter gunships. And a couple fighter aircraft. How long before they insist on a full division to "protect" Egyptian sovereignty?

    And what of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO)? Based on a report from last week, they've built veritable Club Meds at the northern and southern posts, complete with first-rate gyms and swimming pool, cultural facilities, etc. (Yes, I know they need to keep up morale.) They *do* have a mission, of course, but their inactivity this week suggests they're no more engaged than the UN observer forces of the 1960s.