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October 24, 2014 / 30 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘treaty’

Israel’s Trojan Horse?

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

As it turns out, the terrorist gunmen who killed sixteen Egyptian border guards some two weeks ago in northern Sinai presented a gift to the new Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi.

The attack electrified most Egyptians, who assigned blame to the old-line military establishment and gave Mr. Morsi cover to dismantle the powerful council the generals had set up to run the country. Indeed, despite Mr. Morsi’s election several months ago as head of the Muslim Brotherhood Party, the generals have wielded effective control over the country, sharply limiting his day-to-day authority.

So President Morsi moved swiftly after the Ramadan attack, sending his powerful defense minister, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who also headed the military council, and the army chief, Gen. Sami Enan, into retirement. He also fired several leading entrenched intelligence and political officials and issued a constitutional decree to restore many of the presidential powers that had been limited by the army, including his authority to declare war.

For Israel, these events present a particular challenge, in terms of both the terrorist threats emanating from the Sinai and the place of the Sinai in the overall Middle East balance of power. Back in June there was a string of deadly infiltrations along Israel’s southern border with the Sinai, resulting in several Israeli deaths. There was also an upsurge in the number of rockets launched from the Sinai into Israel. And following the onset of the “Arab Spring” in Egypt, terrorist elements ratcheted up their presence in the Sinai, taking advantage of the deterioration of the Mubarak regime.

At the time, Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, said:

We see here a disturbing deterioration in Egyptian control in the Sinai. We are waiting for the results of the election. Whoever wins, we expect them to take responsibility for all of Egypt’s international commitments, including the peace treaty with Israel and the security arrangements in the Sinai [and] swiftly putting an end to these attacks.

And therein lies the rub.

Key to the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt was the demilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula and the creation of a buffer zone between the two countries. Neither nation has an interest in having substantial foreign military forces on its border.

For Israel, always under a siege, this demilitarization was fundamental to its security planning and the perception of the military balance of power in the region; it was the sine qua non for its decision to sign the treaty in the fist place.

The Egyptians, however, while benefiting from the long period of peace, have always chafed at having to accept restrictions on what they could or could not do in their sovereign territory. Of course, the uncontrolled activities of the terrorists presents an entirely new dilemma for them.

There are reports that Egyptian troops, light tanks, armored vehicles and attack helicopters have been moving into the Sinai in order to take down the growing terrorist infrastructure. Though Israel initially understood the necessity, despite the treaty restrictions, of a certain level of military buildup on the Egyptian side, the Cairo government seem to be going overboard.

There was always the possibility – probability, actually – that Mr. Morsi and his virulently anti-Israel Muslim Brotherhood colleagues would try to figure out a way to assume unfettered rights in the Sinai, and now they may have hit on the terrorist threat as an opportunity to do just that.

Indeed, there were reports earlier this week that the Israeli government was already asking the Egyptians to remove some of their heavy equipment on the grounds that they were not needed to deal with the terrorists in the Sinai.

Though far from a perfect analogy, this calls mind the ancient story of the Trojan Horse. Following an indecisive ten-year Greek siege of the city of Troy, the Greeks built a huge wooden horse and hid a number of soldiers inside. They then drew it up to the city wall and left. The Trojans took the horse inside the city. After nightfall, the soldiers inside the horse came out of the horse and opened the city gates, allowing the Greek army, which had sailed back under cover of darkness, to enter and destroy Troy.

Israel can’t afford to let its guard down until the Sinai returns to the demilitarized status of the past three decades.

Adviser to Egyptian President: Morsi Mulling Possibility of Amending Camp David Accords

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is currently determining whether to amend Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel by reintroducing full Egyptian sovereignty and control over the Sinai peninsula, Morsi’s legal adviser told Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Youm on Monday.

The Camp David Accords sets standards and limits for Egypt’s military and security presence in the Sinai. Calls to amend – and even void – the treaty have intensified since the downfall of former President Hosni Mubarak, and members of the Morsi-affiliated Muslim Brotherhood have gone on record supporting this position. But last week’s Sinai border terror attack that left 16 Egyptian officers dead offered another pretext to renew the calls. Still, Mohamed Gadallah refused to elaborate on the statement when asked. Morsi has pledged in public comments to honor all of Egypt’s international treaties, without specifically naming the Camp David Accords .

Addressing Morsi’s decision on Sunday to dismiss Egyptian military chief Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and cancel a constitutional supplement that gave the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) significant oversight in the forming of a constitution, Gadallah said there was no friction between the President and the military, but that “the military council, which reports to the president, should not have legislative powers.”

Bahey el-din Hassan, director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, told Al-Masri Al-Youm that Morsi’s moves should not be underestimated: “This means that now the [Muslim] Brothers have all the powers, whether inside the existing Constituent Assembly or in any future one.”

Gadallah also stated that the decision to dissolve Egyptian parliament in June would not be reviewed, and that Morsi would call for Parliamentary elections after a new constitution is instituted.

In related news, the Palestinian News Agency WAFA reported on Tuesday that Egypt reopened the Rafah border crossing with Gaza, permitting incoming and outgoing traffic.

Critical Days with Egypt – On Eroding Force Limits

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

When you interact with a chess player you had better not think like a tic tac toe player.

And Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy is most definitely a chess player.

The decision to temporarily allow Egypt to deploy attack helicopters in Sinai very close to Israel’s border may very well be justified. But with emphasis on “temporary” and with a sincere hope that we were smart enough to formally establish just how unique the circumstances were.

Let’s be clear about the problem:

For years the Egyptians have been trying to erode the Sinai force restrictions set in the peace treaty they signed with Israel. Force restrictions that were a necessary condition for Israel agreeing to restore the Sinai to Egyptian control.

The Egyptians see the force restrictions as impinging on their sovereignty.

We always considered the force restrictions as critical for the Jewish State’s national security and, frankly speaking, with the Moslem Brotherhood leading Egypt, we need the force restrictions more than ever.

When the Egyptians argue for dropping the force restrictions they exploit Israel’s Achilles’ heel: an ongoing Israeli tendency not to chapter-and-verse our agreements and treaties in policy discussions. It’s a tendency to relate to the “spirit” of agreements rather than the actual texts.

In this case, we have the Egyptian narrative that the force limits – in particular in the zone closest to the border with Israel – make it impossible for them to maintain order.

The truth is that, as Mohamed Bassiouny, Egypt’s former ambassador to Israel from 1986 to 2000 told Al-Masry Al-Youm almost a year ago (25/08/2011) “the treaty allows Egypt to put any number of police personnel in this section.”

And the quality and training of those cops is at the discretion of Egypt.

Taken to an extreme: if Egypt wanted to, it could take its most elite commando units and do the paperwork to make them police and deploy them in the border area. A force with both the skill and discipline to be able to do the job without requiring equipment restricted by the treaty. And it could do this without even consulting with Israel.

Again: the treaty, as it stands, provides Egypt the tools to enforce order while still honoring the force restrictions.

And it would be best that Israel makes this point clear both to Egypt and to the relevant elements of the international community.

We simply cannot afford to allow ourselves to be sucked into a situation that these vital force restrictions are eroded.

Originally published at http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=57812

Egypt: The Party’s Over

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Israel, his Israeli counterpart, Shimon Peres, emitted the following pearl of wisdom: “The peace treaty with Egypt saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of soldiers from both sides.”

Of the two countries against whom Israel fought the last all-out war – Egypt and Syria – only Egypt made “peace” with us. According to Peres’s logic, we should have had hundreds of thousands of fatalities on the Syrian front since the Yom Kippur War. But just the opposite is true. The Golan Heights that borders on Syria is actually the quietest frontier in Israel, with zero fatalities. By contrast, Israel’s south is bleeding – and has been for years.

For those who did not cheer the emperor whose new clothes were conspicuously absent – both in Menachem Begin’s Camp David Accords and in the Rabin/Peres Oslo Accords – the current developments in Egypt come as no surprise. There is not, and never has been, peace between Israel and Egypt. Iran and Syria fight us in the north through their Hizbullah proxy. Egypt fights us in the south with its Hamas proxy. If the Egyptians had wanted, they could have stopped the convoys of Katyusha rockets and all the other armaments from streaming into Gaza from the Sinai.

Many Israelis, both soldiers and civilians, have lost their lives on the Egyptian border. Israel’s entire southern region is now under fire by merit of this “peace.” And this is so without even mentioning the civilian price that we have paid for “peace” with Egypt: trafficking in drugs and women, infiltrators from Africa, and other miserable side effects.

The Israeli “peace industry” made sure to keep up the adulation for the emperor’s new clothes. They blocked the development of Israeli gas fields so that Israel would continue to purchase oil (that was discovered in the Sinai and developed by Israel after the Six-Day War) and gas from Egypt. This arrangement padded the pockets of Egyptian top brass and also those of some select Israelis, who made sure to present a thin facade of pseudo-normal relations with Egypt. We are still paying the price of this arrangement with our outsized electric bills and severe air pollution.

The entire lie of peace with Egypt is now exploding in our faces, and that is just fine. Hopefully, it will not cost lives to restore our southern border to the kind of peace we have on our Syrian border: peace based on the IDF’s deterrence.

Brooklyn DA Blames Israel for Mondrowitz Scandal

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

If there’s any story inside the Jewish community that closely parallels the sexual abuse cover-up inside the Catholic Church, it’s the story of Avrohom Mondrowitz. Posing as both a rabbi and a therapist, Mondrowitz was accused of molesting several boys in his Brooklyn neighborhood in the mid-1980’s. The listed victims were all non-Jewish, mostly because Mondrowitz’s alleged Jewish victims, estimated to be between 100-300 never came forward.

Mondrowitz was charged with eight counts of child abuse and five counts of sodomy. Hours before he was arrested he fled the country, first to Canada and then to Israel. He was rumored to have been tipped off about his pending arrests by local rabbis. He was not extradited since homosexual rape, strangely, was not an extraditable offense in Israel. When the extradition treaty was altered, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that too much time had elapsed for Mondrowitz to receive a fair trial.

The New York Times, in a series of articles on the Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes’ cozy relationship with the Haredi establishment in his district, last week published the results of a FOIL request by activist Michael Lesher. Lesher has been attempting to find out what happened in the intervening years and whether Hynes did everything in his power to bring Mondrowitz to justice. The answer, according to the Times, seems to be, No.

“There isn’t a single e-mail, a single letter, a single memo, either originating from the D.A.’s office or addressed to it, that so much as mentions any attempt by the D.A. to seek a change in the extradition treaty,” Lesher told the Times. “It’s just inconceivable that such important negotiation on such a detailed issue could have taken place and not left a trace in the documentary record.”

Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn DA, told the Jewish Press: “Over all these years, we worked tirelessly with the US Department of Justice and the Israeli Ministry of Justice to get Mondrowitz extradited back to Brooklyn. We were prepared to prosecute him and it was only a decision by the Israeli Supreme Court which ordered that he would not be extradited.”

Rhonnie Jaus, chief of the DA’s sex crime unit, claims that there are more documents that show the DA’s efforts, though the Times says that those were “mainly internal agency documents.”

Schmetterer also acknowledged the 300 documents that were not turned over to Lesher. “It was always in the front of our minds and we made many many phone calls to the State Department about it,” he told the Jewish Press. “A local prosecutor does not have the power to get a treaty changed.”

It is clear by now that Mondrowitz will not be brought to justice in the U.S. . In the last few years he was even involved in teaching children-at-risk. He lives in the Nachlaot neighborhood in Jerusalem and davens in a posh shul. Reportedly, his neighbors like him and are unaware or deny the allegations about his past.

Despite some up-coming high profile cases inside the Haredi community, such as the arrest of four Haredi menfor allegedly offering a $500,000 bribe to a sexually abused teenager to get her to drop charges against a popular community counselor, or the case of Nechemya Weberman, a Haredi rabbi charged with molesting a 12-year old girl over three years, the legacy of the 77-year-old Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes will be one of enabling the tendency of some Haredim to blame the victim in sexual abuse cases, and failing, in the end, to bring Avrohom Mondrowitz to justice.

Dystopia and Israel’s Tomorrow

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

There’s a sort of detached, surreal feeling one gets upon entering the President’s Conference on ‘Facing Tomorrow.’ The men in expensive suits and ties, and the women wearing fancy dresses; the rich and powerful hobnobbing alongside the young and energetic; people of all types, from all over the world gathering together; and the amount of staff seems endless.

It was like walking into a fantasy wonderland. And perhaps it was, in more than one way.

Two themes dominated the evening, peace and technology.

I enjoyed the speeches on technology, or more accurately, the vision of where technology is taking us. Eric Schmidt of Google stood out in particular. His vision was plausible and very much grounded in reality.

On the other hand, when the speakers spoke of peace, we entered the fantasy aspect of the conference.

It began with Professor Daniel Kahneman’s lecture.

Kahneman spoke of Hawks and Doves, the long time and extremely controversial theory he propounds regarding why nations go to war. His conclusions were that while the positions and analyses of the Hawks often seem to be correct, it is only seems so because people are internally biased and prejudiced to sooner believe and/or follow those positions and observations for a variety of cognitively distorted reasons or personal benefit (such as not looking stupid historically after they leave political office). And while the position of Doves seem too often to prove to be wrong, in reality they aren’t. The speech and theory was obviously far more complex than that, but I think that sums it up succinctly enough.

As an example, he spoke of the Egyptian peace treaty that has lasted 30 years. When he mentioned that example, I couldn’t help but think of the recent terror attacks emanating from Egypt, the massive weapons smuggling operations running from Egypt to Gaza, the hatred of Egyptians for the Jewish state – which never subsided in those 30 years, and the strong likelihood the treaty will soon be history. And then my thoughts went on to Oslo…

Kahneman would presumably say all these thoughts were examples of bias and cognitive dissonance.

Following the reception, we saw Henry Kissinger receive the President’s medal from President Peres to a standing ovation, and somehow Kissinger was transformed into the greatest and most unwavering friend Israel ever had. I admit, his speech was indeed emotionally compelling.

But I have to say that the biggest irony of the evening was hearing the orchestra begin to play “Imagine” by John Lennon, as an ever-smiling Tony Blair got up to speak (and what an incredible speaker he is).

The irony was not that Blair spoke about open immigration – tempered with some regulation – and how wonderful it has been for Europe. It wasn’t that Blair spoke incidentally of the terror attacks that began after Oslo (I imagined some people cringing as that deeply buried memory was dug up).

The irony was that as the orchestra began playing ‘Imagine’, I started getting alerts about rockets from Gaza hitting buildings (and eventually people) down South.

There’s no doubt that the President’s Conference is a beautiful and exciting affair. I look forward to the panel with Caroline Glick and Naftali Bennett on Thursday – the only political panel that appears to be actually balanced between left and right.

The visions and displays of the future of technology are certainly inspiring.

At base, one gets the distinct impression that the conference has a very left-leaning bias, which makes sense since it is our President’s conference.

But having lived through the dystopian “Tomorrow” that Oslo (and Peres) dragged Israel into, it’s simply not a “Tomorrow” I’d like to go through again.

Broken Gas Deal Reflects Tentative Future of Peace Treaty

Friday, April 27th, 2012

According to a recent Reuters report, the Egyptian decision to halt its already erratic natural gas supply to Israel was not, as the Egyptian government had put it, due only to financial disagreements. The report cites shareholders in East Mediterranean Gas Co (EMG) who stated: “Any attempts to characterize this dispute as a mere commercial one is misleading. This is a government-backed contract sealed by a memorandum of understanding between Egypt and Israel that specifically refers to the (1979) peace treaty.”

The international shareholders further accused the Egyptian oil and gas companies of failure to protect the pipeline from attack, failure to repair it promptly and the grim fact that they have “delivered almost no gas to EMG since February 2011.”

The Egyptian oil and gas companies have incurred substantial penalties due to their failure to supply the gas, according the shareholders.

Egypt Natural Gas Co is a also a shareholder in EMG.

(Meanwhile, according to Ha’aretz, the Israel Electric Corporation is hectically searching for a new source of natural gas. The IEC has issued an international tender looking to import liquefied natural gas, expecting to pick up some $800 million worth by December 1, 2012.)

Al Ahram agrees that “despite both sides claiming this was just a business deal gone sour, against the backdrop of growing discontent and following the exchange of heated statements, it has become apparent that the actions of the neighboring states are political.”

Al Ahram goes on to cite a 2010 Egyptian Supreme Administrative Court decision overruling a 2008 Administrative Court decision in favor of terminating the natural gas deal. The argument for the overruling was that the lower court did not have the authority to infringe on the government’s sovereignty.

In other words, the deal is officially not purely economical, and the decision to continue or stop the deal is considered by officials to be a political issue, linked to Egyptian national security.

But Al Ahram goes on to argue that the broken gas deal has not been the only source of tension between the two countries this week.

On April 21, South Sinai Governor Khaled Fouda accused Israel of trying to harm tourism in the Sinai. He was critical of a call by Israel’s anti-terrorism unit on Saturday, urging Israelis who were on holiday in the Sinai peninsula to leave immediately, for fear of kidnapping attempts and terrorism.

Governor Fouda refuted Israel’s claims, saying they were nothing more than rumors. The obviously frustrated Fouda said Israel does this whenever Egypt’s tourism industry sees an improvement. In his opinion, as soon as occupancy rates at Sharm El-Sheikh hotels reached 65 per cent, Israel released its “irresponsible statement.”

But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refuted those accusations when he said on Tuesday that Egypt’s Sinai peninsula had become a “kind of Wild West” overrun by militants, terrorists and arms smugglers. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman even suggested Israel should post more troops along the border with Egypt.

Egypt’s military ruler, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, was not happy. “Our borders, especially the northeast ones, are inflamed,” he admitted, but then added an angry warning: “We will break the legs of anyone trying to attack us or who come near the borders.”

Even if Israel were to discount much of that belligerent statement as intended for internal consumption, the sentiment is nevertheless authentic. Sad as it may sound, despite all the hope to the contrary, the Camp David peace treaty has not matured over the past 30+ years to the point where the occasional disagreement could not threaten its very existence. We may be looking these days at the beginning of the end of that treaty.

But those seeking positive signs for the future of the Israeli-Egyptian peace can point to the report this week about the Egyptian army preventing prevented a local group of Bedouins from defacing an IDF memorial in the northern Sinai Peninsula. According to Israel’s Army Radio, the Egyptian military deployed armored vehicles near the memorial, to prevent the Bedouins from reaching it.

Stay tuned…

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/beyond-the-gas-deal-egypt-israel-peace-on-the-line/2012/04/27/

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