Netanyahu Tells Egypt: Keep Tanks out of Sinai
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has demanded that Egypt cease sending tanks into the Sinai without Israel's approval, a “blatant violation” of the 1979 peace treaty, the Maariv Hebrew-language website reported Tuesday.
Mark Regev, spokesman for the Office of the Prime Minister, told Arutz Sheva, “We are not commenting” on the report.
An Egyptian newspaper reported that local Bedouin claimed that Egypt already has sent dozens of tanks to the northern Sinai, near the Israeli border. The report has not been confirmed, and most other media outlets have reported that Egypt is preparing to send in tanks, planes and additional soldiers to combat rampant terror.
Al Qaeda-linked terror cells, Bedouin and Hamas terrorists have taken control of the Sinai Peninsula in recent years, particularly since the end of the Mubarak regime.
A source close to Prime Minister Netanyahu told Maariv the planned buildup, if it already has not taken place, is “a blatant violation of the peace treaty.”
The Obama administration wields influence over Egypt because of its $1.3 billion annual aid to Cairo, and the office of Prime Minister Netanyahu has appealed to the White House to pressure Egypt to stop the deployment.
Israel knows that it is to its benefit if the new Egyptian regime can defeat terrorists in the area, but it also fears that Egypt will not be successful and that terrorists could gain possession of tanks.
Another concern is that Egypt would maintain its new military presence for an unlimited amount of time and establish “facts on the ground: that would represent a de facto change in terms of the treaty, which requires Israeli approval for additional forces.
An unstated concern of almost every Israeli who remembers the Yom Kippur War is that a renewed Egyptian military presence in the Sinai could set the stage for another war, especially if Iran or Hizbullah attacks from the north.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi is scheduled to visit Iran next week to re-establish ties with Tehran, despite the objections of the United States.
Former Obama administration Middle East envoy Dennis Ross wrote in The Washington Post Monday that the U.S. must make clear to Egypt that if it continues to violate its commitments under the Camp David Accords, it would jeopardize its U.S. funding.
Ross said that Egypt's current rulers, the Muslim Brotherhood, must “come to terms with reality,” that they were committed to the Accords. He said that the denial by Egyptian President Morsi that he had responded to a letter of congratulations sent to him by President Shimon Peres, and the attempt by the Muslim Brotherhood to blame the Mossad for the Sinai terror attack, prove that the group cannot tolerate any circumstances that contradicts its philosophy.