Israeli Ambassador Leaves Cairo Amid Speculations of Opening Egypt’s Border with Gaza Soon

“Egypt doesn’t need investment from the enemy” says Egypt’s minister of finance.

We are told that Egypt could open the border with Gaza at any time and is considering tearing down the “Berlin wall” barrier that imprisons the population there.

When and if that happens, Israel’s blockade of Gaza by sea immediately be considered illegal, an unenforceable “paper blockade,” according to the Congress of Paris 1856, which is the current binding “rule of law” in such matters.

When asked to comment about the terrorist attacks that hit New York on 9/11, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu told an audience at Bar Ilan University that the September 11, 2001 terror attacks would be beneficial for Israel. And the years that followed 9/11 proved that Netanyahu was right.

Israel has been the only party that really benefited from 9/11. Those terrorist operations had been enough of a provocation for the United States to wage its military wrath upon two of Israel’s formidable foes namely, Iraq and Afghan-Pakistani Muslim front.

And when again asked his opinion on the pro-democracy popular uprising in Egypt that took place last January, Netanyahu expressed his concerns this revolution might change the Egyptian foreign policy toward Israel. And the days that followed the Egyptian revolution proved that Mr. Netanyahu had been right again.

Ousting Mubarak should not be viewed as only an end to decades of corruption and autocratic domestic Egyptian policy but also to the equally corrupt foreign policy. A considerable share of this has-to-change policy is the Egyptian-Israeli’s.

The Middle East is one of the most politically volatile and inflammatory regions in the whole world. The Arab-Israeli conflict is on top of the Middle East political agenda and with Egypt as a main player in that conflict.

But the question now on the table is whether the strategy of America banking it’s foreign policy and national security goals on corrupt regimes, including Israel, was a disastrous one. For example why would American taxpayers give $2 billion a year to the Mubarak regime who then turned around and passes that on to Israel in a long term below market natural gas deal?

Peace treaty misinterpreted

When the foreign policy of a prominent and leading nation in the Middle East such as Egypt has been neutralized and rather crippled for well over 30 years, then something seriously wrong must have been plotted behind closed doors. Who would benefit from a politically secluded Egypt?

Taking refuge in the Camp David accords and the peace treaty signed with Egypt in 1979, Israel with her backyard nice and quiet and her interest’s best served by a pro-Zionist Mubarak, managed to enjoy the most fruitful 30 years politics could offer.

The peace treaty was meant to put an end to the military confrontation between Egypt and Israel but not to put an end to the political and the soft power of Egypt. This is where Mubarak went terribly wrong misinterpreting this treaty.

Signing a peace treaty with Israel doesn’t mean that Egypt should keep silent about the Israeli aggression and the ongoing daily grab of the Arab land in Palestine. It doesn’t mean watching a big Arab country like Iraq shamefully dismantled without moving a finger.

It doesn’t mean approving of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and tightening the inhuman blockade on Gaza. It doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to the hostile wars of Israel in Lebanon and Gaza. And it certainly doesn’t mean that the only comment any Egyptian foreign secretary could make concerning Israel’s wrongdoings is, “see no evil, hear no evil.”

Changing tones

After years of knowing in advance every Egyptian official response, Israel has lately been dismayed by the harsh statement made by the Egyptian minister of finance, Samir Radwaan. When he was asked to comment on the possibilities for Israeli investments in the country, he simply replied “Egypt doesn’t need investment from the enemy.”

May be this was meant to be off the record and not made an official statement by Mr. Radwaan. He could have been giving vent to his anger and discontent over the loss of an 80 billion dollars deal Mubarak made with Tel Aviv that supplied Israel natural gas needs at the below market prices that Tel Aviv itself called the “Gas theft.”

Why did a relatively poor country like Egypt deprive it’s people of critically needed foreign exchange, for the benefit of a country that could afford to have one of the largest weapons of mass destruction stockpiles?

The minister of finance was not alone in these late accusations, by Mr. Netanyahu, of anti-Israeli hostile comments. Dr. Nabil el-Araby, the new Egyptian foreign minister, who while being interviewed on Egyptian TV lately, said that the peace treaty with Israel should not be taken for granted, and that the Egyptian side is absolutely entitled to revise its terms whenever needed.

He added that there were still items in the treaty that Egypt has not benefited from nor activated yet concerning the security arrangements in Sinai and along the borders with Israel. Dr. el-Araby, was not referring to going back on Egypt’s obligations concerning the Camp David accord; rather he was talking of a new foreign policy that would serve Egypt’s best interest.

Israeli Embassy Protest

On Friday April 8, Thousands of angry Egyptians, on hearing the Israeli news of the latest military attacks on Gaza, marched to the Israeli embassy in Cairo and practically besieged the building with protesters. They not only denounced the Israeli attacks but also demanded the Israeli ambassador to be expelled and the instant freeze of the supply of Egypt’s natural gas to Israel.

Hardly a week has passed since the march on the Israeli embassy before Israel is once again faced with news leaked from the office of the Egyptian foreign minister that spoke of the intentions of Egypt to open the borders with Gaza soon.

This news was broadcast on al Jazeera/Arabic channel on Saturday April 16, and on the following day there was breaking news of Itzhak Levanon, the Israeli ambassador in Egypt leaving Cairo on a flight to Tel Aviv without comments or any statement about his sudden visit to Israel. On the same day the Egyptian government gave a special permit to the family of the late Italian activist, Vitorrio Arrigoni, to pass through the Egyptian crossing point into Gaza and bring his body back home.

But whatever discussions Mr. Levanon might be engaged in through the coming days in Tel Aviv one thing is certain. He is going to assure Tel Aviv that Egypt is regaining its political power back and that the long years of Egypt playing “ see no evil, hear no evil” as far as Israel is concerned are gone.

Dr. Ashraf Ezzat is a medical doctor who writes articles about ancient Egyptian history, ancient Near Eastern history, comparative religion, and politics, especially the Arab- Israeli conflict. He can be contacted at: Read other articles by Ashraf, or visit Ashraf's website.