Jun. 9, 2016
Egyptians Begin to Envision Warmer Relations with Israel – Ofir Winter (Institute for National Security Studies)
- A string of statements by current and former senior Egyptian state and military officials and independent publicists have appeared recently in the Egyptian press, calling for a reassessment, under certain conditions, of the traditional reservations regarding the “temperature” of the country’s relations with Israel.
- Egypt’s openness to eventual “warm” peace with Israel emerges in a new geopolitical context. Normalization is no longer presented only as bait aimed at Israel but rather reflects Egypt’s genuine interests and those of other Arab countries in creating a “new regional order” that will include broader and more open cooperative efforts with Israel for the sake of security stability and economic welfare in the region.
- “Warm” peace with Israel during the current period is actually meant to fill the vacuum left by the reduction of U.S. involvement in the region. It aims at establishing a new regional axis in which Egypt, the Gulf states, and Israel will join forces.
- May Azzam, who published a series of articles in al-Masry al-Youmunder the title “Are the Arabs Ready for Warm Peace?,” noted that the Palestinian problem no longer heads the Arab public agenda; an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights is not currently a relevant prospect, in light of the war in Syria; and the “resistance” organizations of Hizbullah and Hamas are considered by some Arab states to be outcast terrorist groups.
- According to Azzam, “most of the Arab governments already do not regard Israel as their most bitter enemy and rank other countries ahead of it on the hostility and hatred scale.” She pointed to the Egyptian necessity for promoting “a turnover in the principles on which we were educated and that became part of our fundamental concepts.”
- Another columnist in al-Masry al-Youm, writing under the pseudonym “Newton,” stated that after decades of living side-by-side with Israel, the time has come for Egypt to update its “operative program” to enable it to reap the fruits of peace between the two countries. In his view, the new security understandings between Egypt and Israel regarding the deployment of forces in the Sinai Peninsula have proven “the existence of mutual trust and the coordination that serves the interests of both countries.”