Israel and the New Egypt: Is it all bad news?

The American Interest - September 4, 2012

Brig. Gen. Shlomo Brom (retired) is a senior research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv. He was head of Strategic Planning at the IDF’s Planning Branch.

Prof. Shai Feldman is Judith and Sidney Swartz Director of the Crown Center and Co-Chair of the Crown-Belfer Middle East Project at the Harvard Kennedy School 

Amb. Shimon Stein is a senior research fellow at INSS in Tel Aviv. He was Israel’s Ambassador to Germany. 

Not surprisingly, Israelis are alarmed at the prospect that their southern neighbor will now be led by the Muslim Brotherhood. Israel lost “the devils it knew”: not only Mubarak, but also his top lieutenants, such as General Omar Suleiman, head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate, with whom Israelis have been dealing for years. They fear that in the new Egypt it may no longer be possible to “close deals” with a very small number of individuals located in the Office of the President and in the security services. They also worry that public opinion will now matter more, and that Egyptian policy toward Israel will be affected to a far greater extent by the sentiments in the Egyptian street, whose hostility toward Israel was given expression by the ransacking of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo in September 2011. Finally, there is fear that Egyptian-Israeli relations will experience a sharp and rapid deterioration. This fear is understandable, given the Brotherhood’s history of rejecting Israel’s right to exist, as well as its formal and vocal opposition to the 1978 Camp David Accords and the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.

President Morsi’s August 12 sacking of the top commanders of the Egyptian Military and intelligence services only exacerbates these Israeli concerns. The sacking signaled a further tilt in the internal balance of power in favor of Egypt’s new Brotherhood-dominated civilian leadership at the expense of security chiefs with whom Israel has had decades-long relations. ...