By Amihai Zippor
(IHC News, 02 January 2008) The lax effort by Egypt to secure its border with Gaza in order to stop the weapons smuggling into Gaza has caused major tension between Cairo and Jerusalem over the past year.
Israeli officials have routinely accused Egypt of not doing enough regarding the issue, which has created a major threat on Israel’s southern territory.
Until recently Israel used diplomatic channels to relay its displeasure over the situation but after repeated lack of results Israel sent footage to the Bush Administration showing Egyptian border police corroborating with Hamas terrorists along the Sinai/Gaza border.
Prior to that, the US Congress decided to cut millions of dollars in foreign aid to Egypt after it determined Cairo was not fulfilling its obligations under the 2005 Gaza border agreement.
Despite the fact it is Egypt that is not standing by its commitments the two incidents have sparked deep resentment by Egypt against Israel the former threatening to intensify a growing diplomatic war.
“If they [Israelis] continue to push and affect US-Egyptian relations and harm Egyptian interests, Egypt will certainly retaliate and will harm their interests,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said earlier in the week.
“We have claws capable of retaliating in all directions and through diplomacy,” Gheit said without elaborating.
In another apparent warning Ynetnews.com quoted an anonymous diplomatic source as saying, “Egypt can strike at Israel on the diplomatic field and have [Israeli] Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni declared ‘persona non grata’ in many nations, as well as deal a diplomatic blow to Israeli relations with those countries.”
“One more mistake on Livni’s part – as far as Egypt is concerned – will be one mistake too many and may prove devastating for her and perhaps for the future of her career,” the source added.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did not appear overly concerned this week over the situation.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post he explained, “Egypt has a peace agreement with us, and I think that with all the difficulties in the relations, they are very satisfied with the agreement and want to preserve it.”
“That’s not to say that everything they don’t do, or do, is to our liking; and I imagine they have some criticism of us. But there is a continuing dialogue,” Olmert said.
However, his balanced approach is observed differently by many in the Defense establishment who are beginning to view Egypt’s moves regarding the Gaza border and Hamas as a strategic policy that will continue to have adverse effects against Israel.
Also, Israel has taken note of Iranian diplomat Ali Larijani’s completion of a weeklong trip to Egypt yesterday.
A close aide to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, Larijani’s talks were aimed at restoring relations with Cairo, which Teheran severed following Egypt’s signing of the 1979 peace treaty with Israel.
One of the diplomatic threats Egypt may be waving in Israel’s face is that it will sabotage future Israeli efforts at halting Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
Source: Original text contributed by the author, IHC reporter.
Copyright © Israel Hasbara Committee, 02 January 2008.
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