Middle East scholar Dr. Mordechai Kedar says for Israel the most important issue concerning Egypt is the new Egyptian regimes’ commitment to maintaining the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar Ilan University, an expert on Middle Eastern Affairs, told United With Israel, “It is nice for Israel that the Muslim Brotherhood does not control Egypt, yet all that matters is that the peace agreement is kept. I’m not expecting hugs and kisses. All we need is that the peace agreement will be kept and implemented. The rest is not our business. If Morsi kept it, we have basis to believe that the others less committed to the Islamist way of thinking will not break the rules, especially because they need foreign aid.”
Some Israeli officials believe that whoever will be the next Egyptian President will be better for Israel than Morsi. Morsi had made numerous anti-semitic statements, including comparing Zionists to the descendants of apes and pigs and called upon Egyptians to nurse their children and grandchildren on hatred for Jews. Additionally, he had cut off gas deals with Israel, radicalized the Egyptian media to be more anti-Israel, and actively worked to prevent the Israeli Embassy in Cairo from being operational.
When asked about the prospect of the Egyptian secularist movement succeeding in future Egyptian elections given that they decided to unite under one candidate, Kedar emphasized, “As in every where, it is better to have one candidate; it increases his chances of winning.” Many protesters in Tahrir Square blame the secularists failure in the last Egyptian elections on the fact that multiple liberal candidates ran, resulting in weakening their voting power. Additionally, Kedar stated, “The military already announced that they are going to reshape the constitution. This will have an influence” on upcoming Egyptian elections.
When asked about the Muslim Brotherhoods political role in Egypt’s future, Kedar said, “The Muslim Brotherhood won’t be silent as their achievements were nullified. They will regroup. They definitely will try to go back to the government by elections or by demonstrations because they feel the government was taken from them without justification and they were pushed to the margins.” Kedar warned, “Some people from the Muslim Brotherhood may regroup as a terrorist organization. They might carry out terrorist attacks against those who acted against them.” There have already been instances where Morsi supporters have threatened to target their opponents with suicide bombings. Such a move would significantly worsen the security situation in Egypt, which has negative regional implications.
Kedar claimed that the lawlessness that presently exists in the Sinai adversely affects Israel and this situation is unlikely to get better no matter who is in charge. He stated, the Egyptian military doesn’t need “tanks and airplanes” to take care of the problem; they merely “need commander units to go to the caves, mountains, and rocks” where radical jihadists are hiding. He emphasized, “As long as the Egyptian Army doesn’t do this, they can’t do a thing to change the situation.” However, he explained that in this period of history the Egyptian military is “more concerned about what is happening in Cairo and Alexandria,” resulting in allowing the lawlessness in the Sinai to continue. While the lawlessness of the Sinai was always a problem, it had gotten worse under Morsi, yet even with fresh leadership, Kedar emphasized, “The problems of Egypt exist regardless who is in power.”
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About the Author: Rachel Avraham is a news editor and political analyst for Jerusalem Online News, the English language internet edition of Israel's Channel 2 News. She completed her masters degree in Middle Eastern Studies at Ben-Gurion University. The subject of her MA thesis was: "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab media."
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