Ne­tanyahu: Egypt at­tacked ‘axis of peace’

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY BEN BIRN­BAUM

Is­rael be­gan send­ing some diplo­mats back to Egypt last week to eval­u­ate the safety of restor­ing full re­la­tions af­ter a mob ran­sacked the Is­raeli Em­bassy in Cairo on Sept. 9, an Is­raeli of­fi­cial said Sept. 11.

“We’re look­ing to put a few peo­ple back to as­sess the sit­u­a­tion and get some sem­blance of the em­bassy up and run­ning again,” said the of­fi­cial, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied in or­der to dis­cuss a sen­si­tive diplo­matic is­sue.

He added that Is­rael wished to send Am­bas­sador Yitzak Le­vanon back to Cairo “as soon as pos­si­ble” but only un­der ap­pro­pri­ate se­cu­rity ar­range­ments.

Af­ter a mob tore down a con­crete wall and stormed the em­bassy, Is­rael evac­u­ated most diplo­mats and their fam­i­lies on two mil­i­tary jets. The at­tack also stoked Is­raeli fears that Egypt’s Arab Spring rev­o­lu­tion would im­peril the 1979 peace treaty be­tween the two coun­tries.

At a Sept. 11 Cabi­net meet­ing, Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu ac­cused Egyp­tian pro­test­ers of at­tack­ing the “axis of peace.”

“It is an axis to which there are ob­jec­tors, who are ap­peal­ing not against pol­icy, but against Is­rael,” he said.

Mr. Ne­tanyahu said that Is­rael is hold­ing talks with Egypt’s rul­ing Supreme Coun­cil of the Armed Forces re­gard­ing se­cu­rity ar­range­ments that would en­able the am­bas­sador’s re­turn. A high-level Is­raeli del­e­ga­tion ar­rived at Cairo In­ter­na­tional Air­port on Sept. 11, ac­cord­ing to the Egyp­tian news­pa­per Al Masry Al-Youm,.

Egyp­tian-Is­raeli re­la­tions have de­te­ri­o­rated since the Fe­bru­ary ouster of Pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak, who sup­ported re­la­tions with Is­rael.

Is­raeli lead­ers have ac­cused Egypt of fail­ing to do enough to pre­vent re­peated at­tacks in the Sinai Penin­sula on the pipe­line that car­ries nat­u­ral gas from Egypt to Is­rael. Ten­sion es­ca­lated last month af­ter ter­ror­ists en­tered south­ern Is­rael through the Egyp­tian bor­der and massa- cred eight peo­ple in the dead­li­est at­tack on Is­raeli soil since 2008. While pur­su­ing the gun­men, Is­raeli forces mis­tak­enly shot Egyp­tian bor­der guards, leav­ing six dead and mil­lions en­raged.

The events of Sept. 9 re­ver­ber­ated around the world, draw­ing con­dem­na­tion from Euro­pean cap­i­tals and con­cern in Washington.

In a phone call to the Egyp­tian for­eign min­is­ter on Sept. 10, Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton “ex­pressed the United States’ deep con­cern about the vi­o­lence in Cairo,” the State Depart­ment said. She also called on the Egyp­tian govern­ment to fully pro­tect all diplo­matic mis­sions and per­son­nel in Egypt.

In re­sponse to the at­tack, the Egyp­tian govern­ment an­nounced the re­ac­ti­va­tion of all ar­ti­cles of Egypt’s Emer­gency Law and said that it would pros­e­cute those who at­tacked the Is­raeli Em­bassy.

How­ever some Is­raeli politi­cians re­mained wary.

“At the mo­ment, we can­not rely on the cur­rent [Egyp­tian] govern­ment,” hard­line Knes­set mem­ber Danny Danon said.

He added that he will seek a hear­ing about Egyp­tian-Is­raeli re­la­tions in the for­eign af­fairs and de­fense com­mit­tee.

“We have to an­a­lyze the over­all sit­u­a­tion, mainly the Sinai is­sue, be­cause it’s not only us who are look­ing at the pic­tures, but also Ha­mas and other ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions who want to take ad­van­tage of the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion,” he said.

Many fear that Egypt’s up­com­ing pres­i­den­tial and par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, ten­ta­tively sched­uled for later this year, will only ex­ac­er­bate the diplo­matic ten­sion.

This ar­ti­cle is based in part on wire ser­vice re­ports.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Egyp­tian soldiers guard the shat­tered en­trance of the Is­raeli Em­bassy in Cairo on Sept. 11, two days af­ter pro­test­ers stormed the build­ing, prompt­ing the evac­u­a­tion of nearly the en­tire staff from Egypt in the worst cri­sis be­tween the coun­tries since their 1979 peace treaty.

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