The U.S.-Israel-Egypt Trilateral Relationship: Shoring Up the Foundation of Regional Peace

[Washington Institute for Near East Policy] David Makovsky - Egypt is in the process of leadership transition in which the fate of the Egypt-Israel relationship may be up for grabs. The U.S. has a strong interest in an outcome with a new leadership in Egypt that sees peace with Israel and partnership with America as a cornerstone of its national interest. Egypt and Israel definitely have common interests. Neither side favors a Hamas government in Gaza. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak reportedly said recently, "The situation that has developed in the Gaza Strip in recent months has led to Egypt in practice having a border with Iran." Both Egypt and Israel oppose not only Iranian support for the Hamas-backed government in Gaza, but also oppose Iranian support for Hizbullah in Lebanon and Iran's effort to develop a nuclear program. A strong Iran hurts Egypt and is an existential threat to Israel. The most pressing issue is contention over whether Egypt is being sufficiently pro-active in sealing its side of the border and halting the weapons smuggling from Sinai to Gaza. If Egypt wants a cease-fire to last, it must do better in halting the smuggling. Failure to address the smuggling issue not only will lead to a major Israeli incursion but will also put pressure on the parties to freeze the Annapolis talks. Israel views the lack of Egyptian action more as a result of deliberate policy and not as a lack of capacity. The Israelis do not believe the smuggling of rockets is the work of rogue elements in the Egyptian security services who are paid by local smugglers to turn a blind eye. Israel has provided Egypt with the names of 250 smugglers and asked that they be arrested, but knows of none that have been. Israel rejects the view that the problem is insufficient Egyptian troop levels along the Sinai-Egyptian border.

2008-05-28 01:00:00

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