Israel Deeply Worried Over Fate Of Mubarak and Future of Egypt
I have been fascinated by the developments in not only Egypt as the people are taking to the streets for freedoms, but also in other places in the Middle East as they try to understand unfolding events and think about the future of a post-Mubarak era.
No where are the concerns greater than in Israel.
The New York Times has an excellent read today about the thinking that needs to take place among those who thought they were in a hard place before the events now unfolding. Now Israel might truly be about to know the hard place.
Israelis worry that Jordan is in a precarious state and a successful overthrow in Egypt could spread there. And if the Muslim Brotherhood were to gain power in Egypt, that would probably mean not only a stronger Islamist force in Gaza but also in the West Bank, currently run by the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, as well as in Jordan, meaning Israel would feel surrounded in a way it has not in decades.
If Egypt also turned unfriendly, that would quite likely stop in its tracks any further Israeli talk of peace negotiations with the Palestinians, officials and analysts said. A peace treaty with the West Bank would involve yielding territory and military control to a relatively weak Palestinian Authority. Trading land for peace with autocrats like Mr. Mubarak, some analysts say, is not a sound basis for enduring treaties.
For the military here, a serious change in Egypt means a strategic shift in planning. Giora Eiland, a former national security adviser and a senior fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, said even if Egypt did not cancel its peace treaty with Israel tomorrow or in five years, a government dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood would mean “you can’t exclude the possibility of a war with Egypt.”
“During the last 30 years,” he said, “when we had any military confrontation, whether in the first or second Lebanon wars, the intifadas, in all those events we could be confident that Egypt would not try to intervene militarily.”
Dan Schueftan, director of the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa, said thanks to its treaty with Egypt, Israel had reduced its defense expenditure from 23 percent of its gross national product in the 1970s to 9 percent today and made serious cuts in its army. The relationship with Egypt also allowed Israel to withdraw from Gaza in 2005, since Egypt covered Gaza from the south.