The Israeli enemy expects the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will survive democracy protests that have shaken the country over the past three days, government officials and analysts said.
Israeli officials and analysts said they did not foresee the downfall of the Egyptian regime, and were confident that even regime change would not result in the breakdown of ties with Cairo.
“We have an earthquake in the Middle East… but we believe the Egyptian regime is strong enough and that Egypt is going to overcome the current wave of demonstrations,” an Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told journalists on Thursday. “Mubarak is not Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. There is a huge difference. The Egyptian regime is well rooted, including the defense establishment. Their regime is strong enough to overcome the situation,” he said.
A second government Israeli official echoed that view. “The regime may be shaken by the troubles, and anything is possible, but it doesn’t have a serious air to it,” he told AFP, adding that Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt was not in danger. “It is in the fundamental interests of Egypt to maintain its privileged ties with the West, and maintaining peace with Israel is part of that,” he added.
“We are closely following the situation with great interest,” Israel’s foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP in turn.
On Wednesday, Israeli vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom expressed hope that the Egyptian authorities would “give their citizens freedom and rights while continuing on the good path of good relations with Israel established over 30 years ago.”
Israeli analysts also said they thought it unlikely the regime in Cairo would fall, and said that even a regime change would not necessarily jeopardize the peace treaty Israel signed with Egypt in 1979. “Even if the Muslim Brotherhood, who have criticized ‘illegal ties with Israel,’ came to power, the army and the Egyptian security services would oppose it with all their might,” claimed Yoram Meital, a researcher at Beersheva University in southern Israel. “Even if the opposition is very hostile to Israel, if they refuse any form of normalization (with Israel), it is not ready to renounce the ‘cold peace’ between the two countries and take the risk of a new war,” Meital, a Middle East specialist, said.
Ref: Al jazeera
Israel Believes Egyptian Regime Will Survive Democracy Protests ( so speaks the “only” democracy in the M.E)
Without Egypt’s Mubarak and with relations with Turkey in shambles, Israel will be forced to court new potential allies.
The fading power of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s government leaves Israel in a state of strategic distress. Without Mubarak, Israel is left with almost no friends in the Middle East; last year, Israel saw its alliance with Turkey collapse.
From now on, it will be hard for Israel to trust an Egyptian government torn apart by internal strife. Israel’s increasing isolation in the region, coupled with a weakening United States, will force the government to court new potential allies.
Israel’s foreign policy has depended on regional alliances which have provided the country with strategic depth since the 1950s. The country’s first partner was France, which at the time ruled over northern Africa and provided Israel with advanced weaponry and nuclear capabilities.
After Israel’s war against Egypt in 1956, David Ben-Gurion attempted to establish alliances with non-Arab countries in the region, including Iran, Turkey and Ethiopia. The Shah of Iran became a significant ally of Israel, supplying the country with oil and money from weapons purchases. The countries’ militaries and intelligence agencies worked on joint operations against Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s rule, which was seen as the main threat against Israel and pro-Western Arab governments.
Israel’s next alliances were forged with Jordan’s King Hussein and Morocco’s King Hassan. These ties were operated in secret, as well as ties with leaders in Lebanon’s Christian community. The late 1970s saw the fall of the Shah of Iran, with an anti-Israel Islamic republic created in his stead.
Around the same time, Egypt and Israel broke their cycle of conflict by signing a peace agreement. Egypt positioned itself on the side of Saudi Arabia, as head of the pro-American camp.
Mubarak inherited the peace agreement after President Anwar Sadat’s assassination. Mubarak was cold in his public relations with Israel, refusing to visit the country except for Yitzhak Rabin’s funeral, which decelerated normalization between the countries.
Relations between the Israel Defense Forces and the Egyptian army were conducted on a low level, with no joint exercises. Egyptian public opinion was openly hostile towards Israel and anti-Semitic terminology was common. Civil relations between the countries were carried out by a handful of government workers and businessmen.
Despite all of this, the “cold peace” with Egypt was the most important strategic alliance Israel had in the Middle East. The security provided by the alliance gave Israel the chance to concentrate its forces on the northern front and around the settlements. Starting in 1985, peace with Egypt allowed for Israel to cut its defense budget, which greatly benefited the economy.
Mubarak became president while Israel was governed by Menachim Begin, and has worked with eight different Israeli leaders since then. He had close relations with Yitzhak Rabin and Benjamin Netanyahu. In the last two years, despite stagnation in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and worsening relations between Netanyahu and the Arab world, Mubarak has hosted the prime minister both in Cairo and in Sharm el-Sheikh.
The friendship between Mubarak and Netanyahu is based on a mutual fear over Iran’s strengthening and the rising power of Islamists, as well as over the weakening and distancing of the U.S. government with Barack Obama at its head.
Now, with Mubarak struggling over the survival of his government, Israel is left with two strategic allies in the region: Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. These two allies promise to strengthen Israel’s Eastern battlefront and are also working to stop terror attacks and slow down Hamas.
But Israel’s relationship with these two allies is complicated. Joint security exercises are modest and the relationship between the leaders is poor. Jordan’s King Abdullah refuses to meet Netanyahu, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is waging a diplomatic struggle against Israel’s right-wing government. It’s hard to tell how Jordan and the PA could fill the role that Egypt has played for Israel.
In this situation, Israel will be forced to seek out new allies. The natural candidates include Syria, which is striving to exploit Egypt’s weakness to claim a place among the key nations in the region.
The images from Cairo and Tunisia surely send chills down the backs of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his cronies, despite the achievement they achieved with the new Hezbollah-backed Lebanon government. As long as the Arab world is flooded with waves of angry anti-government protests, Assad and Netanyahu will be left to safeguard the old order of the Middle East.
Ref: Al Jazeera
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A number of IDF soldiers have over the last year faced investigation and penalty for documenting themselves performing questionable acts in front of Palestinian prisoners or while on patrol.
A new video uploaded to YouTube shows an Israel Defense Forces soldier wriggling in a belly dance beside a bound and handcuffed Palestinian woman, to the cheers of his comrades who were documenting the incident.
The IDF’s internal investigation department ordered an immediate probe into the matter after the Ch. 10 television program Tzinor Laila caught wind of the clip on the internet. The full clip and the details behind the incident will be broadcast on the show just before midnight on Monday.
A number of IDF soldiers have over the last year faced investigation and penalty for documenting themselves performing questionable acts in front of Palestinian prisoners or while on patrol.
In August, former soldier Eden Abergil raised controversy by posting pictures of herself beside a bound and blindfolded Palestinian prisoner on her Facebook page.
Days later, three IDF soldiers were arrested taking photographs of themselves alongside cuffed and blindfolded Palestinian detainees using their cellphones.
Photographs uploaded by Abergil and labeled “IDF – the best time of my life,” depicted her smiling next to Palestinian prisoners with their hands bound and their eyes covered.
A comment attached to one of the photos of the soldier smiling in front of two blindfold men and posted by one of Abergil’s friends read “That looks really sexy for you,” with Abergil’s response reading: “I wonder if he is on Facebook too – I’ll have to tag him in the photo.”
A comment allegedly added by Abergil to her Facebook page later that wee said that she would “gladly kill Arabs – even slaughter them.”
“In war there are no rules,” Abergil allegedly wrote on the wall of her profile page.
Other soldiers faced disciplinary action over the last year for uploading video of themselves stopping a patrol in the West Bank to dance to American electro-pop singer Kesha’s hit Tick Tock.
The video “Batallion 50 Rock the Hebron Casbah” shows six dancing Nahal Brigade soldiers, armed and wearing bulletproof vests, patrolling as a Muslim call to prayer is heard. Then the music changes and they break into a Macarena-like dance.
The video was uploaded over the weekend, and quickly spread across Facebook pages and blogs before it was removed by those who uploaded it.
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The issue of Israeli settlements has captured attention far beyond the arena of international politics. Several celebrities have now thrown their weight behind what is being termed a “cultural boycott” against further building on Palestinian land. But with Israel’s construction freeze due to expire at the end of the month, there are doubts that these efforts will make any impact. Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reports.
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Discrimination faced by Palestinians living within Israel’s borders remains one of the key sticking points in Middle East peace talks. Umm al-Fahm is a town made up almost entirely of Palestinian Israelis – those who found themselves within the new border when Israel was created in 1948. Israel’s declaration of independence, the equivalent of a constitution, states that all citizens are equal but the one-fifth of the population who are Palestinian, believe they are less equal than others. Al Jazeera’s Dan Nolan reports from Umm al-Fahm, Israel.
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Documentary about Israeli peace activists. For more information – join on Facebook > http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=134111073300491
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As I write this piece the scale of the Israeli lethal slaughter at sea is yet to be clear. However we already know that at around 4am Gaza time, hundreds of IDF commandos stormed the Free Gaza international humanitarian fleet. We learn from the Arab press that at least 16 peace activists have been murdered and more than 50 were injured. Once again it is devastatingly obvious that Israel is not trying to hide its true nature: an inhuman murderous collective fuelled by a psychosis and driven by paranoia.
For days the Israeli government prepared the Israeli society for the massacre at sea. It said that the Flotilla carried weapons, it had ‘terrorists’ on board. Only yesterday evening it occurred to me that this Israeli malicious media spin was there to prepare the Israeli public for a full scale Israeli deadly military operation in international waters.
Make no mistake. If I knew exactly where Israel was heading and the possible consequences, the Israeli cabinet and military elite were fully aware of it all the way along. What happened yesterday wasn’t just a pirate terrorist attack. It was actually murder in broad day light even though it happened in the dark.
Yesterday at 10 pm I contacted Free Gaza and shared with them everything I knew. I obviously grasped that hundreds of peace activists most of them elders, had very little chance against the Israeli killing machine. I was praying all night for our brothers and sisters. At 5am GMT the news broke to the world. In international waters Israel raided an innocent international convoy of boats carrying cement, paper and medical aid to the besieged Gazans. The Israelis were using live ammunition murdering and injuring everything around them.
Today we will see demonstrations around the world; we will see many events mourning our dead. We may even see some of Israel’s friends ‘posturing’ against the slaughter. Clearly this is not enough.
The massacre that took place was a premeditated Israeli operation. Israel wanted blood because it believes that its ‘power of deterrence’ expands with the more dead it leaves behind.
The Israeli decision to use hundreds of commando soldiers against civilians was taken by the Israeli cabinet together with the Israeli top military commanders. What we saw yesterday wasn’t just a failure on the ground. It was actually an institutional failure of a morbid society.
It is no secret that Palestinians are living in a siege for years. But it is now down to the nations to move on and mount the ultimate pressure on Israel and its citizens. The massacre was committed by a popular army that followed instructions given by a ‘democratically elected’ government.
Considering the fact that Israel stormed naval vessels sailing under Irish, Turkish and Greek flags, both NATO members and EU countries must immediately cease their relationships with Israel and close their airspace to Israeli airplanes.
Considering yesterday’s news about Israeli nuclear submarines being stationed in the Gulf, the world must react quickly and severely. Israel is now officially mad and deadly. The Jewish State is not just careless about human life, as we have been following the Israeli press campaign leading to the slaughter; Israel actually seeks pleasure in inflicting pain and devastation on others.
REf: Al jazeera
– Gilad Atzmon (gilad.co.uk) is an Israeli-born writer and jazz musician living in London. He had previously served in the Israeli military but he is currently an anti-racism campaigner. His latest CD is In Loving Memory of America.
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Hamas must seize the initiative if there is ever to be an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine
So it has happened again. Nearly 18 months after the Israelis bombed Gaza to a wasteland, with barely a load of building materials allowed in since then, Turkey has taken the brunt of an operation of humanitarian assistance gone wrong.
The UN must establish the facts impartially and independently and, if laws have been broken, those responsible must be held to account. Political demonstrations posing as relief flotillas go wrong too easily and Israel understandably has to prevent weapons being smuggled into Gaza. But was this really the best way to bring the ships to shore for examination? A commando attack on civilian ships looks callous and disproportionate. No one should have been hurt, whatever the emotions behind all this.
Why is Gaza under siege in the first place? Under international law, the Israelis are responsible as the occupying force for the proper administration of the territory; and half the point of Israel is not to be above the law. Yet they are creating a traumatised territory of 1.5m neighbours, many of whose children seem to want to grow up to be suicide bombers. They are also pouring fertiliser on al-Qaida’s ground.
The director of UNRWA operations in Gaza, John Ging, gave a speech in London this week entitled “Illegal, inhuman and insane: a medieval siege on Gaza in 2010″. This objective humanitarian practitioner should be listened to. How has Israel, the only democracy in its region and a symbol of the need for racially inspired violence to end, come to risk any claim to international legitimacy in its handling of this situation?
Hamas are the enemy of Israel, but they do not have to be. They preach violent resistance too readily, yet over the past 17 months they have been trying to control the militant groups intent on threatening Israel with rockets – imperfectly perhaps, but not a single Israeli citizen has been killed (alas, one immigrant worker was) by a rocket since the Gaza bombing stopped in January 2009. They are also the implacable opponents of al-Qaida. They won a fair election in 2006 and claim to respect democracy. Let’s test them on that. At present, Hamas security people are being sniped at by the Israeli Defence Forces when they try to arrest other militant groups. This is genuinely getting insane.
The unwisdom of reliance on angry military responses is all the clearer when the mood in Palestine, in both the West Bank and Gaza, is steadily moving towards a negotiated end to the occupation. I am convinced from my own direct experience that Hamas is prepared to establish and respect a long-term ceasefire so that the talking can start without the threat of violence, and that they would enter in good faith, if that were reciprocated, into negotiations to establish two states in the disputed territories, Israel and Palestine, with their own rights and responsibilities under international law. The distortion of their position, a little of it the fault of their own PR, does no side any good.
If a comprehensive negotiation is too much to expect for now, what about a first step? I believe an arrangement to end the blockade is within reach if only Israel, Egypt and Gaza would test the possibilities of dialogue. Hamas have indicated that they could cease all attacks on Israeli soil, close the tunnels, release Gilead Shalit and stop the import of arms into Gaza if the blockade was ended, an agreed number of Palestinian prisoners were released and Gaza began to be rebuilt.
The Palestinians of course have work to do on their own internal reconciliation, while the relationship between Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza remains so bad. But the UN, the US, Russia, the EU and the Arab world must make a much more serious attempt to test the possibilities, putting ordinary Israelis and Palestinians first, not their own political comfort.
We are coming close to losing the chance of a two-state solution. US policy, based on a West-Bank-only approach, is locked in a cul-de-sac if Gaza is left out of the equation, because majority Palestinian support will be lacking. Israel is confident in the knowledge that it cannot be militarily defeated.
But that ignores the huge danger of losing the political, diplomatic, legal and moral high ground. This matters in today’s world, as the US and the UK discovered in Iraq, because government authority and public opinion interact closely, and legitimacy breeds support.
Israel’s relationship with Turkey was the key to a broader understanding with the Islamic community and others beyond the west. That now lies in tatters. If Israel is left as the permanent occupier, or controlling a one-state structure with part of its population downgraded or imprisoned, it will truly be a disaster for its people and what they stand for.
I hope that Hamas will not sit back and enjoy Israel’s discomfiture. They have so far, for a political organisation, attracted much too narrow a range of international support. If they wish to be widely accepted as a negotiating partner, they must unequivocally accept the only fully justified condition set by the international Quartet – the cessation of violence – underline that their objective is a two-state settlement, and win international friends for the ending of the occupation. In whoever’s hands, bombs, bullets, rockets and iron bars will achieve nothing. But a push for justice will.
• This article was originally written for the Times but not published
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