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Israel Braces For Post Mubarak Era

Israel Must Prepare For Post-Mubarak Era In Middle East That Will Be More Militant & Radical Islamist

Israel's Defense Establishment Now Adds Egyptian Developments To Lebanese Turmoil On Its Borders

Israeli Leaders Refrain From Commenting On Tense Situation As They Ponder Future Of Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty

Ehyptian President Mubarak

Israeli leaders and the IDF are closely monitoring the rioting across Egypt that is threatening to topple the regime of President Hosni Mubarak, Israel's closest ally in the Middle East. A former Israeli cabinet minister, who has been the closest Israeli official to Mubarak, has now warned that Israel must prepare for the post-Mubarak era. And Binyamin Ben Eliezer adds: 'I believe a new Egyptian regime will be more militant and radical Islamist'! Analyst David Essing has this assessment on how the tumult in Egypt is being viewed in Israel.

 What transpires now in Egypt is of the utmost importance and concern for Israel - at stake is the future of the Israeli- Egyptian peace treaty of 1979. It was signed by President Anwar Sadat and after his assassination two years later, Israelis worried if the peace accord would survive. Today that fateful question is again on the minds of Israeli leaders and the public at large. At present there is no answer. And for the time being Israel's political and and military leadership are hoping for the best, while knowing they must also prepare for the worst. Hosni Mubarak succeeded Sadat and not only honored the peace treaty but also became Israel's closest ally in the Arab world. Several months ago, an Israeli submarine sailed through Egypt's Suez Canal. Its destination unknown. Possibly it was bound for the Persian Gulf to keep an eye on Iran the bitter enemy of both Israel and Egypt. It was an example of just how close Israel and Egypt have become over the years. Can a new Egyptian regime be expected to maintain albeit a 'cold peace' but with such strategic understandings? There can be little doubt that a regime of the Muslim Brotherhood, possibly the best organized opposition, would immediately throw the peace treaty out the window, and join forces with Iran.

Former cabinet Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer, who was born in Iraq and spoke Arabic with Mubarak at their meetings, knows Mubarak probably better than any other Israeli. Ben Eliezer, now a Labor Knesset member, has warned:' Israel must now brace for the post- Mubarak era! We are entering a new Middle East, one that will prove to be more militant and more radically Islamist'. Nonetheless Ben Eliezer added: 'I believe the Israeli- Egyptian peace treaty will prevail because it's also in Egypt's interest, although our relations are likely to be more limited'. Mubarak followed Sadat's pledge to the Jewish state: 'No more war!' For over thirty years Israel has not had to face the threat of a major attack along its Egyptian border. From a strategic point of view this removal of Egypt from the ring of military threats cannot be overestimated. A new 'more militant and Islamist' regime would dramatically alter IDF contingency planning. The sense of uncertainty will prevail until the tear gas dissipates in Cairo and a new regime takes office.

The current fireworks are being hailed by Hamas in Gaza that has always egged on its kindred spirits in Egypt, the Moslem Brotherhood. The loaded atmosphere could spark another barrage of rockets fired by exuberant terrorists in Gaza at Israeli communities across the border. As for the arms smuggling from Egyptian controlled Sinai into Gaza, the Mubarak regime never really tried very hard to stem it. Shabak Security Chief Yuval Diskin recently disclosed: ' The Egyptians could block the arms smuggling within twenty-four to forty-eight hours, if they wanted to!' The only time the Egyptians got serious was when they thought their interests were endangered, (such as the Hamas-Moslem Brotherhood connection.D.E.)

King Abdullah

If the Egyptian domino falls, will Jordan the second Arab country to have signed a peace agreement with Israel, be the next to go. Demonstrations have spread to the monarchy where Palestinians now comprise a majority of the population that is ruled by King Abdullah II. However Jordan is a different story altogether. Abdullah is supported by his strong and very loyal Bedouin army. An attempt to overthrow the Hashemite Kingdom would undoubtedly be met by a severe reaction. During 'Black September' of 1970, the PLO challenged King Hussein's authority who reacted with such severity that some Palestinian terrorists actually fled across the Jordan River seeking refuge in Israel, of all places! However the standard of living for most Jordanians is reasonable compared to the abject poverty for the vast majority of Egyptians who are now demanding 'bread and decent jobs!' Syria, another of Israel's neighbors is governed by the minority Alewite sect that rules with an 'iron fist'. In 1982, former President Hafez Assad literally massacred over 20,000 male members of the Muslim Brotherhood when they revolted in the city of Hama. The Alewites maintain tight control over the Syria military and extensive secret service apparatus. Probability is low of Jordanian and Syrian dominoes being next in line.

What impact will the upheaval in Egypt have on Israel's political thinking? It provides proof positive for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's contention that peace accords may be signed with partners who can later be toppled or assassinated. The conclusion is that Israel must insist on iron-clad security arrangements and not be coerced into making risky territorial concessions that will put its survival in jeopardy. Slogans often preached to Israel such as 'peace will bring security' or 'territory for peace' take on an almost flippant meaning when considering the earthquake that is now shaking Israel's neighbors.The late Prime Minister Menahem Begin realized this when he negotiated the peace treaty with Anwar Sadat. Begin insisted on the demilitarization of Sinai - all Egyptian tanks, artillery, missiles, infantry formations etc. were to be deployed some 200 kilometers to the rear, on the other side of the Suez Canal. Granted it's still early says and the final act of the Egyptian drama has yet to be played but Begin got it right when he insisted on Israel's defense border with Egypt being along the distant Nile.

David Essing

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