Dec. 7, 2016
- Still Awaiting Israeli-Egyptian Normalization – Zvi Mazel
Much is made in Israel of the strong security cooperation with Egypt in the fight against Islamic terrorism in northern Sinai. Yet relations between the two neighboring countries show no sign of thawing in spite of a few gestures of goodwill lately.
Trade figures remain low and stem largely from the agreement on Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) reached in 2004, enabling Egyptian textiles to enjoy custom-free access to the U.S. under the umbrella of the free trade agreements between Israel and America, provided that 10.5% of the finished product originates from Israel. Egyptian exports rose from $200 million a year to more than $1 billion, giving work to 700 companies employing a total of 280,000 people.
In the first years after the peace treaty, Israel put its know-how in growing fruits and vegetables in desert soil at the disposal of Egypt and model farms were established. Israel gave its neighbor the best seeds and trained thousands of Egyptian farmers. Production soared. Then the Islamists accused Israel of “poisoning Egyptian soil,” and agricultural cooperation came to an end with the fall of Mubarak. The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden. (Jerusalem Post)