Mubarak Gone, Will Israel Learn?

Whatever the exact power structure will settle down to be, it is a near certainty that the next rulers of Egypt will be more Islamic in character and more hostile to Israel. Will Israel learn?

David Shalom

OpEds David Shalom
David Shalom
INN:DS

In an unsurprising move to those following the conduct of the current US administration, Obama, abandoned his support for President Mubarak and Egypt lies in chaos as Mubarak resigns.  It is unclear if he really resigned and who will end up in power- whether he will continue till September, whether a military junta will take over,  whether a group of generals will manage to restore the old order under a different leader or whether the Moslem Brotherhood and a coalition of Islamists will ascend.

Whatever the exact outcome, it is a near certainty that the next rulers of Egypt will be more Islamic in character and more hostile to Israel.

There are several lessons Israel must learn from this. Strategic decisions on how to deal with the enemy in the South need to be quickly formulated.

Israel signed a peace accord with Egypt in 1979, but there has never been real peace with the Arab nation. The government-controlled press, television, and even educational curriculum indoctrinated a generation of Egyptians with hatred and lies about Israel. The Egyptians never instituted any cultural, commercial or other normalisation policies with Israel and indeed the government in Cairo  made it its policy to attack Israel at every single international forum.

There has been no peace between the Egyptian people and Israel and no government in Cairo has allowed any such development. Egypt has supported terrorists- including Arafat’s PLO and the Islamists Hamas (before 2005)- to engage in their attacks on Israel.  It has daily abrogated the treaty’s spirit, if not its very letter, and yet has not faced any sanctions for this. Only Egypt  has benefited from the treaty with Israel.

Under the Camp David Accords, Israel surrendered the vast Sinai Peninsula to Egypt. Sinai is approximately twice the size of Israel, including all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza (60,000 vs about 27,000 km2). and had been conquered by Israel in 3 wars. Sinai was never part of Egypt and has historic importance ony for the Jewish people; for it is where the nation received the Torah.

Sinai is sparsely populated, allows greater access to the Red sea and borders the strategically important Suez Canal.  The east bank of the canal was liberated from Egyptian occupation by Israel in 1967.

Under Israeli sovereignty, Sinai was allowed to bloom; Israel built towns and developed the area for tourism. The town of Ofira was the first tourist resort in the peninsula. This outstanding, naturally beautiful spot, with its coral beaches and Israeli built hotels was renamed “Sharm-El sheikh” by the Egyptians after Israel handed it over to them in 1980. It is estimated that tourist revenues from Ofira alone give Egypt more than 1 billion dollars annually.

Israel discovered oil in Sinai and built up the infrastructure to extract and refine it. Estimates suggest that this provides Egypt with over 2 billion dollars annually.

The accord also allowed Egypt to then leave the Soviet sphere of influence and benefit from 1.5 billion dollars of annual American aid as a result.  

Israel relinquished more than 170 military installations and dozens of early warning stations. It uprooted towns and villages- moving thousands of people and destroying the blooming community of Yamit.

It is clear that the peace treaty was good for Egypt, having given it land, vast amounts of it, money as well as international praise.  It stabilised the regime there for over 30 years, despite its defeats in the four wars it started with Israel.

For Israel, the treaty has had no benefits whatsoever. "Peace" with Egypt lasted  solely because of the Egyptians’ massive defeats in both 1967 and at the end of the Yom Kippur war.

Israel need not have relinquished any land. The loss of strategic depth that Sinai provided is now coming back to haunt Israel as the threat from an Islamist regime in Cairo grows.

A new regime will feel free to throw away the treaty, associating it with the old order, and will translate popular hatred for Israel into official hostility.  Iran’s front-man and former IAEA head,  Mohammed El Baradei,  a leadership contender, cited the peace accord with Israel as one of the reasons for President Mubarak’s unpopularity. The fact that Egypt has been the sole beneficiary of this accord and has greatly enriched itself as a result of this is unimportant to antisemitic Arab demagogues for whom acknowledgement of Israel’s right to exist is unacceptable.

It is reasonable to assume that Israel would have enjoyed 30 years of relative quiet and greater prosperity, had it not relinquished any part of Sinai to Egypt.  Egypt, impoverished and overcrowded, defeated on the battlefield. was desperate at that time for an end to hostilities. Yet in Israel, weak Diaspora minded leaders, including Moshe Dayan and Menachem Begin himself (who craved acceptance of the leftist Ashkenazi establishment), could not hold out and broke under US president Jimmy Carter’s pressure to surrender all of Sinai to then Egyptian dictator Sadat.

Later published memoirs of Sadat indicate that he was astonished to receive all of the Sinai and would have been happy with as little as half of the territory. If Israel had held back, had instituted a policy of “peace for peace” , Sinai today would be in her hands and the threat from the new regime taking hold in Cairo would be less so, with hundreds of miles of desert separating her population centres from Egyptian forces.

The Sinai surrender,  as well as the later ones at Oslo that followed this precedent, have led to many deaths and a weakening of Israel’s standing in the world. They have brought an illusion of peace that is dangerous and strengthens Israel’s foes from without and within. Many of the Leftists in Israel cite the Camp David accord as proof of the wisdom of their suicidal policies.  

Treaties that surrender land to the Arabs, whose countries can be taken over by dictators and terrorists, are inherently unstable and dangerous, aside from their immoral nature. Signing an accord, even one that doesn’t relinquish any territory, with an Arab dictator such as the one in Damascus, is now proved to be complete madness.

From now on, the Egypt lesson must therefore be presented to all Israelis as the greatest folly ever and the lies about “peace in our time” must be exposed. The Likud itself must clean away the wrongs of Begin and openly declare Camp David dead. At Metzudat Zeev (Likud headquarters),  only Jabotinsky and Yitshak Shamir should be extolled. 

This is in the best interest of the party, before Lieberman and others replace them as the natural party of government.

A message from Jerusalem should now be sent to Cairo, telling it that whoever comes to power must respect the accord. Jerusalem must declare that If the new regime abrogates even the smallest clause of the treaty, this will be seen as the right to tear the whole treaty apart.

While Egypt may seek war with Israel, she must understand that Israel’s people and armed forces are ready and willing to inflict painful blows in such an event. Sinai will be seen as occupied territory and Israel will feel free to regain all of parts of the region when and where it suits it best.

The Egyptians should also be made aware that the pain of conventional wars of the past will be but a drop in the ocean in the numbers of dead Egyptians should they foolishly seek to attack the region’s only superpower





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