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Tuesday, December 5, 2006




Expectations

Regarding Israel's expectations from peace accords, ceasefires and similar stuff I would like to ask - why should we be expecting so much in the first place?

Haaretz

Not the peace we expected

December 04, 2006
by Yuval Steinitz


Egypt's behavior in Sinai and along the Philadelphi route, which enables the large-scale arming of terror organizations, requires a reexamination of Israeli policy. Many people have become convinced in recent months that Egypt intends to allow the Israelis and the Palestinians to bleed together. These suspicions began to crop up among policymakers in Washington by 2000, after the failure of the Camp David summit and the outbreak of the second intifada.

We should recall that at that same summit, then-prime minister Ehud Barak prepared a "strategic surprise": his proposal to divide Jerusalem, including the Old City, in order to stun Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat and motivate him to sign a peace agreement. Barak believed Arafat would find it difficult to resist the temptation of a historic achievement - a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem - and would sign to end the conflict.

However, the voice of the opposition arose, and it wasn't coming from just the "resistance front." Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak hastened to warn on television that Arafat did not have the power to decide on Jerusalem, because the Old City belonged to all Arabs and Muslims, and dividing it would constitute betrayal. Mubarak's intervention in these critical moments led to a rare public complaint by then-U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright about his "contribution" to the peace process.

. . . Continue Reading


To this we must add Egypt's strange behavior regarding the peace process between Israel and Jordan. The Egyptians complained for years about their isolation in the Arab world due to their peace agreement with Israel. That was also the explanation given for Mubarak's refusal to visit Israel and for the cold peace, which he promised would warm when more countries joined the circle. So what was Egypt's attitude to the political process with Jordan? It turns out Egypt was so eager to emerge from its isolation that it applied tremendous pressure on the late King Hussein to keep him from signing an agreement with Israel. Egypt did not even send proper representation to the signing ceremony in the Arava; Mubarak, who was invited, preferred to remain in Cairo.

The same pattern of behavior was also seen when Yitzhak Rabin sought to achieve full diplomatic relations with Qatar and Morocco. To Rabin's disappointment, Egypt managed to torpedo agreements with these countries at the last moment. Of course one can find ad hoc explanations for Egypt's behavior in each and every case, but looking at the complete picture, one sees an Egyptian strategy that is not in tandem with its declared policy of promoting regional peace.

Increased arms flow

What is Egypt's real attitude toward the Palestinian Authority and the terror organizations in the territories? Most of the weapons and ammunition that enter Gaza pass through Egyptian territory. It is a convention that any country that does not do everything in its power to prevent arms from being smuggled to terror organizations is considered a silent supporter of terror.

Smuggling from Egypt is steadily increasing. The Shin Bet security services reports that every year, more than 20,000 rifles, millions of bullets, hundreds of RPG anti-tank missiles, tons of regulation explosive materials and additional equipment that could arm several infantry divisions pass through Egypt. For the sake of comparison, Jordan is much more determined in its anti-smuggling activity, and the results correspond to the effort.

As opposed to the prevailing impression, in order to stop the smuggling, Egypt does not need to go to battle in the tunnels under the Philadelphi route. The reality is much easier to implement: It must deploy checkpoints on the few highways and dirt roads leading toward Rafah, and intercept the convoys of weapons and ammunitions. Egypt also should catch and jail the chief smugglers in El Arish and Cairo, thus breaking up the smuggling networks like the Jordanians did.

Backing Hamas

And, of course, there is the diplomatic sphere. When Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal and his friends are repeatedly invited to meetings with Egyptian ministers in Cairo, this constitutes a type of vital diplomatic backing for Hamas vis-a-vis not only Israel, but Fatah and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas as well. The same was true about two years ago, when the Egyptians tried to achieve a hudna (cease-fire). They proposed that in exchange for a temporary cease-fire, a historic guarantee would be given not to disarm Hamas or bring it down by force . . .

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