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Egypt, Turkey and Israel

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu: 'US President Barack Obama Deserves Special Thanks For His Role In Saving Lives Of Our Six Security Guards Who Were Threatened By Mob Inside Cairo Embassy'

Middle East Spring Is Turning Israel Into Scapegoat For Islamist Violence From Egyptian Rioters To Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan

IsraCast: Two Incidents Illustrate Different Approaches By Egyptian & Turkish Leaderships To Israel.

Benyamin Netanyahu

 The 'Arab Spring' erupted against the Jewish state in Cairo where a mob, protesting against the Supreme Military Council in Freedom Square, turned its rage against the Israeli embassy. They smashed through a security wall, recently constructed by the Egyptian authorities, broke into the embassy and threatened the six Israeli guards. The lives of the guards hand in the balance before they were rescued by Egyptian commandos at the last moment. The Egyptian incident came within days of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's threat to send his warships to break Israel's legal blockade of Gaza. Analyst David Essing is of the view the two incidents have illustrated the differing approaches by the Egyptian and Turkish leaderships to Israel amid the current chaos in the region.

 'Batten down the hatches!' - Israel's ship of state is headed for one of its most dangerous storms ever. That was the message from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after Egyptian commandos rescued six Israeli security guards. In Cairo, Egyptian leaders had to send in their commandos to rescue Israelis nearly lynched by a raging mob inside Israel's embassy. Appearing on TV, Netanyahu described the 'complex' rescue operation in detail. On a tranquil Sabbath eve in Jerusalem, the PM was summoned to the Situation Room at the Foreign Ministry where Israel's top security officials had gathered to monitor what was happening inside the embassy. Netanyahu immediately ordered that all eighty Israeli embassy staff and families be evacuated by aircraft from Cairo. However, six security guards were trapped inside the embassy where thousands of rioters had surrounded the building and broken in. The guards had taken refuge on the seventeenth floor behind a metal security door, but it was only a matter of time before the rioters would break it down. Netanyahu urgently telephoned US President Barack Obama, with whom he has not been on the best of terms, requesting that Obama contact Egyptian leaders to act immediately to rescue the security guards. He told Obama the situation was a 'critical moment'. The U.S. President replied: 'I'll do all I can' and Netanyahu added: 'He did it! We owe him a special thanks and this shows how vital the alliance is between Israel and the U.S.'

Netanyahu also credited the Egyptian commandos for preventing a disaster as well as citing his contact with the Egyptian authorities who, he noted, bear responsibility for protecting foreign embassies as an inseparable function of a sovereign state. In this vein, Israel was determined to preserve the peace treaty with Egypt and as soon as adequate Egyptian security precautions were in place, the embassy staff would return. Channel One TV has reported that a very senior Egyptian official asked Netanyahu to leave at least one Israeli official in Cairo to dispel any impression that diplomatic relations had been severed. The deputy-ambassador has remained in the Egyptian capital. The assault on the embassy has been condemned by Egyptian officials, and some other Arab countries, as a flagrant violation of the Vienna Convention regarding the inviability of foreign embassies and diplomats.

The Prime Minister took the opportunity to comment on the current anarchy in the Arab world and Israel's crisis with Turkey. In his view, the Middle East was now experiencing an historic earthquake, comparable to the upheaval after World War I (when the great powers carved up the region into different countries). It was vital for Israel to act calmly and with sound judgement in the face of these subterranean developments that were not always of her doing. But under the circumstances, it was of cardinal importance to preserve Israel's security and national interests. And he added:'Many in Israel, and also abroad, will better understand our insistence on security when they see the situation we're facing'. The PM repeated his position on direct negotiations with the Palestinians. As for the crisis with Turkey, Israel would do what was possible to prevent a further deterioration. For his part, Netanyahu would try to reduce the flames and if possible to restore the previous good relations.

Recap Tayyip Erdogan

Earlier in Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan was again instigating his people against Israel by warning he would dispatch Turkish warships to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza - a blockade ruled legal by the recent Palmer Inquiry set up by the UN with Turkey's consent. Obviously, there was a big difference between Egypt and Turkey. While Egypt's ruling Supreme Council finally acted to rescue the Israelis in the embassy, Erdogan does all he can to intimidate the Jewish state by threatening to break the legal blockade. And for what purpose? The Palmer Report also noted that necessary humanitarian aid is reaching Gaza through the Gaza terminals. Cabinet Minister Dan Meridor has noted that Turkey supported the appointment of the Palmer Inquiry but deigns to reject its findings because it rejects the Turkish case. Ankara, despite Palmer, still argues the blockade is illegal adding that Israel views itself as above the law ane the UN. But in fact, it is Turkey that sees itself as above international law and the UN!

If Israel did allow cargo vessels to sail without search into Gaza is there any question they would soon be transporting more deadly missiles that would soon be launched at Israeli civilians? During last month's flareup, more than one hundred rockets terrorized some one million Israeli civilians for several days. Moreover, how indeed does Erdogan respond, when Kurdish rebels seeking autonomy attack Turkey? There is also little doubt now after Erdogan's erstwhile alliance with Iran's Ahmadinejad, Syria's Assad and Libya's Gadaffi has crumbled, that the Machiavellian leader of Turkey is escalating his tirades against Israel. It plays well with the Arab gallery, although NATO, of which Turkey is an ally, has reportedly called on Erdogan to halt sabre-rattling not only toward Israel but also Cyprus, where Turkish forces have occupied the north of the country since 1974, in violation of UN resolutions. The U.S. has also appealed to her two Middle East allies, Israel and Turkey, to defuse their current feud. At this juncture, there is little if no evidence that Erdogan will back off. On the contrary, the Turkish leader is about to visit Cairo where he will now be given a hero's welcome, possibly unseen since the heyday of former Egyptian President Abdul Nasser, another leader who sought to be champion of the Middle East.

PS: On the eve of the sabbath, Prime Minister Netanyahu's latest performance rating was a pitiful 23%. This was primarily due to the 'social justice' campaign that has branded him as the key factor for the economic decline of the younger generation. However, Netanyahu will now get high marks for his handling of the embassy affair in Cairo. There is also the broader question of territorial concessions. Israel returned all of Sinai to Egypt's President Anwar Sadat after the Egyptian leader pledged 'No more war! and agreed to demilitarize Sinai to prove it. Israel also made peace with Jordan after King Hussein also created an environment of peace with the Jewish state. But now, Israelis are wondering if the peace agreement with Cairo may be on its last legs, if the Muslim Brothers win the upcoming Parliamentary election. And what if Israel had returned the Golan Heights to Syria, who knows what regime, possibly the Muslim Brotherhood with links to Iran, would soon be commanding the strategic plateau overlooking northern Israel. Then there's the West Bank where Israeli security disclosed the capture of a Hamas terror cell that had plotted a major suicide bombing attack. Further to the east, there's Jordan Hashemite Kingdom that rules over a Palestinian majority. King Abdullah II, as was his father, is a firm friend of peace with Israel. But can anyone guarantee how long he will remain on his throne? That is not to say Israel should refrain from launching her own peace initiative, but Netanyahu does have a point about Israel's need for security arrangements in the absence of a current environment of peace. As for the Palestinian camp, it is split between the peaceful coexistence of Mahmoud Abbas and the genocide of Hamas. So, Netanyahu can be expected to continue trying to ride out the storm and if anything the barometer has been steadily falling. If the Israeli leader would declare a new freeze on building beyond the old 1967 line, he might gain more backing abroad on the Palestinian issue but that would mean losing the support of his Right wing partners at home.

David Essing

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