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Now for an Egyptian reaction…

15/11/2012

“We call on our Arab brothers, and especially Egypt … and the new Egyptian Presidency, to suppress this barbaric campaign against Gaza and its people” Ismail Haniyeh.

The Egyptian response came a few hours later with the Egyptian Presidential spokesperson Yasser Ali – in a heroic tone – announcing that President Morsi has recalled the Egyptian Ambassador to Israel, summoned the Israeli Ambassador in Cairo to convey Egypt’s objection to continued Israeli attacks on Gaza, and ordered the Egyptian representative at the United Nations to call for an emergency meeting of the Security Council. Additionally, Morsi called on the Secretary General of the Arab League to hold an emergency meeting for the long forgotten Arab Foreign Ministers.

It is not surprising that a Muslim Brotherhood President would take such a symbolic reaction to the Israeli attacks on Gaza and the killing of Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jaabari. It is interesting to note that overthrown President Hosni Mubarak – who made it obvious that he couldn’t care less about the Palestinian struggle – summoned the Egyptian ambassador to Israel at least 4 times during his Presidency.

By doing so Morsi has won easy brownie points among the antagonised Egyptian public.  However, he has also raised expectations for taking more concrete steps to support neighbouring Gaza whether through unconditionally opening the Rafah crossing or threatening to use the peace treaty card to pressure Israel. Both scenarios would no doubt instantly increase his credibility domestically among both Islamists and leftists.

Mohammed Seif al-Dawla an Egyptian presidential advisor has previously stated that revising the peace treaty with Israel is only “ a matter of time” and that he would submit a proposal for amending the treaty.

Despite the fact that Morsi repeatedly assured to foreign media that his government would respect and uphold Egypt’s international commitments, it will not be to hard for the Egyptian government to argue for the necessity of revising the treaty in order for Egypt to be able to uphold such commitments.

Egyptian-Israeli relations have reached the highest levels of uncertainty and ambiguity since the 1970s. Egypt’s unwillingness to prevent un-peaceful protestors from ransacking the Israeli Embassy, and inability to prevent over 15 militant attacks sabotaging pipelines exporting gas to Israel in Sinai; in addition to the gradual trend of reducing trade with Israel are mostly acts that could be viewed in light of the general negative public sentiments towards Egyptian-Israeli relations. And it is not hard to anticipate that an increase of government responsiveness in Egypt will make it even more likely for Israel to expect a more aggressive Egyptian tone on the Palestinian conflict.