The Egyptian people are rising up to topple Morsi’s government as part of a mass protest movement, yet how these latest developments affect Israel remains to be seen.
As we speak, protests are raging across Egypt calling upon the Muslim Brotherhood-led government led by Egyptian President Morsi to resign. The Muslim Brotherhood headquarters has been stormed, four government ministers have resigned in solidarity with the Egyptian people, and 16 Egyptians have died so far, with 781 being injured. The scenes on the streets of Egypt are reminiscent of the Egyptian Revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak from power, as the Egyptian military has given Morsi a 48-hour ultimatum to meet the protesters demands. The question arises, how would the overthrow of Morsi’s government affect Israel?
MORSI’S ISRAEL POLICY
Current Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has made a series of anti-Israel statements. Morsi has described Zionists as bloodsuckers, criminals and descendants of apes and pigs. He also stated, “We must not to forget to nurse our children and grandchildren on hatred towards those Zionists and Jews, and all those that support them.”
While Morsi, to his credit, has flooded Gazan tunnels based on the correct assessment that they encourage lawlessness in the Sinai, he did not do this because he sought to help Israel. Morsi still very much hates Israel, as demonstrated by the fact that he refuses to visit or improve relations with Israel. The gas supply has also been cut between Egypt and Israel, despite an agreement reached under Mubarak’s regime.
Under Morsi’s leadership, minority rights for Jews and Christians within Egypt have plummeted. There have been many violent anti-semitic demonstrations in the streets and the few remaining Jews in Egypt are living in fear. In Egypt under Muslim Brotherhood control, Israeli pilgrims can no longer visit the tombs of great rabbis and Israeli tourists can’t vacation in the Sinai or see the pyramids in Cairo without risking their own safety.
Radical Islamists have threatened the safety of any Israeli who seeks to visit Egypt. The storming of the Israeli Embassy, which has yet to reopen, reinforces the hostile atmosphere that has emerged between Israel and Egypt. One could argue that the main reason why Morsi is not interested in starting a war with Israel is Egypt’s reliance on American money and the domestic problems faced by Egypt, since the destruction of Israel is a pivotal part of Muslim Brotherhood ideology.
IS THE SECULAR EGYPTIAN OPPOSITION BETTER?
While it is an Israeli interest to see Morsi overthrown, it still remains to be seen how much better the secular opposition in Egypt is for Israel. According to Pew Opinion Poll, only 3 percent of Egyptians view having a relationship with Israel as important or somewhat important. Additionally, 63 percent of Egyptians want to annul the peace treaty with Israel. In one of the protests against Morsi, an Israeli flag was burned and an American Jewish student that came to Egypt to improve his Arabic and teach English, Andrew Pochter, was stabbed in cold blood.
However, according to the Institute for National Security Studies, “Egyptian social media activists do not wish to annul the peace treaty with Israel, but they demand changes in the military annex of the agreement. Many now call for an end to the ‘winks and hints’ method that has replaced official policy between Egypt and Israel in Sinai. Although it is widely known that Israel is now permitting Egyptian forces to enter into the sparsely manned demilitarized zones, many demand that the military annex be revised to legally codify full Egyptian sovereignty throughout Sinai. Many are even prepared to accept closer security cooperation with Israel, provided that it be transparent and open. Some question why the Egyptian military does not enlist Israeli aid in fighting terror.
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