Saturday, February 12, 2011

How the new Egypt threatens Israel

The political earthquake in Egypt has sent shockwaves through Israel, shredding decades-old security assumptions and leaving the Jewish state to face more turbulent, demanding relations with its powerful neighbor.

The toppling of President Hosni Mubarak following a popular uprising was greeted by scenes of jubilation in Cairo and wild celebrations on the streets of Gaza, but in Israel, Friday's dramatic events were met with silent anxiety.

It is hard to overstate the importance to Israel of its 1979 peace accord with Egypt, which has given it stability on its southern flanks and has helped successive Israeli leaders maintain the status quo in the unresolved Palestinian conflict.

A future Egyptian government is unlikely to tear up the historic Camp David peace treaty, because such a move could deprive it of crucial U.S. aid. However, most analysts foresee a more testy and uncomfortable ties in the years ahead.

"This has left us dangerously isolated. Egypt was our only strategic partner in the region," said Alon Liel, a former director-general of Israeli Foreign Ministry.

"In the future, Egypt will have different relations with Israel. More hostile and more unpredictable," he added.