Sisi's New Approach to Egypt-Israel Relations

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) Mohamed Soliman - Shortly after the toppling of former Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013, Israel began unequivocally backing the new regime of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Israel launched diplomatic missions in Washington and several major European capitals to support Egypt's new political situation and prevent a diplomatic blockade on Cairo. Since then, Egypt-Israel relations have witnessed unprecedented growth, often driven by Sisi himself. Sisi's government coordinated with Israel, which gave Egyptian forces the green light to deploy in response to terrorist attacks against the military in northern Sinai with heavy weapons, armored vehicles, and air incursions. These actions went directly against what is stipulated in the security appendix of the Camp David Accords, and they demonstrated flexibility and coordination between Egypt and Israel. Israel itself has conducted a number of aerial intelligence missions to uncover terrorists' hiding spots. Sisi has insisted that Egypt-Israel relations are a necessity in light of their shared regional foe: Hamas, seen as an extension of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. Thus, Sisi has shifted Egypt's role with Israel from that of an "existential struggle" to a partnership of necessity. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has responded favorably to Egypt's shifting role as negotiator in the larger peace process, as it presents an alternative to the recent French initiative. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry's recent visit to Israel was also monumental. His meeting with Netanyahu in Jerusalem rather than Tel Aviv was incredibly symbolic, as it sidestepped the traditional diplomatic taboo on such visits. The visit demonstrated a recent trend where Israel has been able to shift its relationships with Arab countries from behind closed doors into the public sphere. The writer, a political analyst based in Cairo, is a member of the Dostour Party's political bureau.

2016-08-01 00:00:00

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