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ISRAEL, EGYPT & IRAN

Dr. Schueftan : 'Israel made a major mistake in the negotiations with the Egyptians'

'The UN is an insult to anything that can bring stability and peace to the world'

The new Egyptian Border

Middle East expert Dr. Dan Schueftan says Israel is at fault for not pressing Egypt to fulfill its peace treaty commitments with Israel and blocking the smuggling of arms and explosives from Egyptian controlled Sinai into the Gaza Strip. In an interview with David Essing, Schueftan argued that Israel also was mistaken to undermine the Sinai demilitarization by agreeing that seven hundred and fifty Egyptian army soldiers replace Egyptian policemen in the Philadelfi Corridor that separates Sinai from the Gaza Strip. In the first days after the IDF evacuation, the Egyptian troops did not prevent a massive flow of people and apparently weapons to and from the Gaza Strip. As for Iran, Schueftan says in the final analysis the U.S. and not the U.N. will determine whether Tehran acquires nuclear weapons with which it has threatened to exterminate the Jewish state.

Question: We're speaking with Dr. Dan Schueftan, a leading Israeli expert on the Middle East. One change in the recent days has been the Egyptian military forces, which have taken control of the Philadelphi corridor between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, and at the beginning it turned out to be a flop. has Israel made a dangerous mistake in allowing the Egyptian army to patrol around the border between Sinai and the Gaza Strip?

Dr. Schueftan: Israel made a major mistake in the negotiations with the Egyptians. You could reach an agreement with the Egyptians under very strong American pressure to force the Egyptians to behave in a responsible way. But the way it was done where Israel leaves the control over this area even before the Egyptians proved themselves, where Israel committed itself to allow the Egyptians to be there, even when they completely fail. The Skandalis and irresponsible behavior of the Egyptians is what you have in the Arab world, irresponsible countries, not only the Palestinians but also the Egyptians. Perhaps the only Arab country that behaves in a responsible way is Jordan. but what you had there was a bad mistake in conducting negotiations with the Egyptians and I hope we've learned the lesson from it and not trust the Egyptians, certainly not let the Egyptians have any say in the West Bank because their irresponsibility will extend there as well.

Question: Well, might this also open up the Gaza Strip, residents of the Gaza Strip moving in the other direction, moving into perhaps Sinai and finding maybe their livelihoods there?

Dr. Schueftan: The Egyptians won't let it happen on a large scale.

The Iranian Missile Range

Question: And what about Iran at the UN, they seem to be as defiant as ever. Do you think the United Nations, the international community, is going to learn finally that you can't negotiate with Iran, that they are determined to go ahead with developing nuclear weapons?

Dr. Schueftan: There's no such thing as the International Community, and the UN is an insult to anything that can bring stability and peace to the world. It depends only on American resolute attitude. I think that what we've seen in North Korea may be a positive step towards isolating Iran and primarily to convince the Americans to force on the Europeans not to stand in the way of effective actions against Iran because the Europeans understand that Iran is a danger. The Europeans only are not willing, as they are never willing, to do anything about defending themselves. So it goes back to the United States. This is the only hope that you have on any kind of stability and anything that may work.

Question: Well, very dramatic developments over this week or so, how do you think this is going to play out in the match-up that Sharon is coming back at the Likud convention, do you think it's going to be enough for him to catch up to Bibi Netanyahu with the Likud members?

Dr. Dan Schueftan

Dr. Dan Schueftan is a senior Israeli academic and deputy director of the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa, where he also serves as a senior lecturer in the School of Political Sciences. Schueftan has served as an advisor to Israel's National Security Council, and to former Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon.

Dr. Schueftan: I don't know if the Likud is not lost. I mean the Likud members are not lost. The majority of Likud voters want a responsible government and therefore I think that if Sharon goes alone he will have enough so that he may again become the Prime Minister. It is very difficult to predict because things are being changed at this moment, but I think Sharon is much better today than he was a month ago and two weeks ago, and I hope he will continue to be strong.

David Essing

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