Camp David Is Finished. Israel Is Silent as Peace Accords Are Trashed
The first sentence of this caption is not a DEBKA-Net-Weekly original. The copyright belongs to one of Egypt's presidential contenders. Amr Moussa, 74, is intoning this slogan in one campaign speech after another.
A former Egyptian foreign minister and ex-Secretary General of the Arab League, Mousa was also the legal adviser to the Egyptian delegation which negotiated peace with Israel at Camp David, USA, 32 years ago. This did not deter him from eulogizing the Egyptian-Israel peace night after night when he joined voters at home for the iftar fast-breaking meal during the month of Ramadan.
Moussa is one of the strongest of the 10 candidates running for the post-Mubarak Egyptian presidency. Recent opinion polls give him 34 percent of the vote. He is also backed by the apparatus the deposed president Hosni Mubarak's movement, the National Democratic Party.
The NDP survives its former leader's downfall as a tightly organized party supported by Egypt's intelligence and security services.
Moussa helped whip up the street mob baying for blood after Israeli inadvertently killed three Egyptian army officers this month while fighting off a terror attack near the Egyptian border. On his Twitter account, he wrote on Aug. 18: “The martyrs' blood will not be wasted," and demanded the Israeli ambassador be summoned for an official dressing-down.
He did not clarify what he meant by that evocative phrase. But it was enough to appeal strongly to the Egyptian street. The song “I hate Israel and I love Amr Moussa” by famous Egyptian singer Shaaban Abdel Rahim has become all the rage Cairo.
Calls to end peace ties with Israel: A popular Egyptian campaign slogan
Amr Moussa is not the only Egyptian public figure plugging the anti-Israel line. DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Cairo sources report that it is a common slogan in the speeches of all the presidential contenders of every political stripe and in common use by ruling generals, politicians, high-ranking military officers, the media and public figures. While bashing Egypt's peace treaty may be popular wit the voter, most speakers prudently avoid broadcasting their slogans abroad. They fear the disastrous effect on Cairo's already fragile relations with Washington and its desperately needed annual $3 billion aid package.
That said, popular opinion shapers in Egypt all agree that Camp David belongs to the past and all the contracts Mubarak and his predecessor Anwar Sadat signed with Israel from 1979 on should be trashed, starting with the contract for the sale of Egyptian natural gas.
Therefore, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman are deluding themselves when they imagine they can salvage the peace ties embodied in these historic documents by kowtowing to the military junta in Cairo's slightest whim and demand – right or wrong.
A high-placed US source closely monitoring Israel-Egypt relations told DEBKA-Net-Weekly that the unraveling of peace ties might be slowed down marginally but the main direction is irreversible. The military rulers in Cairo may not explicitly revoke the peace treaty and even pay lip service to its importance, but their actions will progressively empty its provisions of content and release Egypt from its binding commitments.
This is already happening in terrorist-ridden Sinai Peninsula which the peace treaty conceived of as a demilitarized buffer and peace zone between the two peace partners.
Egypt's Sinai troops woo Bedouin rather than fight terrorists
Our sources in Cairo and Jerusalem report that Cairo is putting on a show of fighting terrorists in Sinai. The performance consists of augmenting military units in the peninsula – after obtaining Israel's consent through US good services – to battle al Qaeda, Palestinian and Bedouin terrorist cells and safeguard the Egyptian gas pipeline to Israel, blown up five times since February.
To impress the US and Israel of their seriousness, the Egyptians have dubbed their non-effort Operation Eagle.
All DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military and intelligence sources confirm that the operation so far consists of setting up roadblocks in northern Sinai and giving the Egyptian police units back-up for arresting of suspected miscreants.
But the be-all and end-all of the operation is winning the trust of the nearly half-a-million Bedouin tribes in Sinai, 80 percent of whom live in the north between Rafah and Lake Bardawil and are bitterly hostile to Egypt.
The orders handed the Egyptian commanders were to focus on extending the hand of friendship and peace to the indigenous tribes and give them a sense of belonging to the Egyptian nation.
They brought with them plans for introducing a course on Egyptian folk traditions in Bedouin schools, opening up government and municipal jobs hitherto reserved for Egyptians and establishing an Egyptian-Bedouin university in the northern town of El Arish to be called the Sinai University.
Anyone with the slightest knowledge of Bedouin culture will appreciate that none of these plans will cut any ice. But the uniformed disseminators of Egyptian goodwill are sticking to the task rather than fighting terrorist gangs or arms and drugs smuggling networks, whether al Qaeda, Iranian, Palestinian or Libyan.
Israeli government and military policy-makers continue nevertheless to play the ostrich with adverse results:
Egypt quietly tears up the peace accords while Israel is silent
1. Palestinian terrorist cells from Gaza have made the Sinai Peninsula their launching-pad for cross-border attacks on Israel, certain they are safe from Israeli pursuit across the Egyptian border.
The first such attack occurred on August 18 on a main highway north of Eilat. It was also the first time that as many as 15-20 gunmen staged a coordinated series of attacks, killing nine Israelis and injuring 33. Most were civilians driving to Eilat for a holiday.
2. The new balance of strength claimed by Prime Minister Netanyahu to the cabinet on Aug. 21 – namely, that Israel would retaliate in Gaza for terrorist attacks launched from Sinai – quickly evaporated in the heat of 150 rockets fired from Gaza in three days against Israel's southern cities.
Buoyed by their success, Palestinian extremists consigned another large team from Gaza to Sinai for another go.
The Egyptian military have left these gangs alone and allowed them to move about at will. They have therefore been free to choose when to strike and against which Israeli targets at their leisure.
Egypt's tacit acquiescence has enabled their tacticians to turn the tables on Netanyahu and recast his equation to suit the book of terror: For every punitive operation in Gaza, Israel will be punished for Sinai.
3. This threat has already forced Israel to indefinitely close to civilian traffic the main roads connecting northern Israel with the South and clear a broad swathe around the Gaza border.
4. Israel now finds Egyptian soldiers parked on its Sinai border for the first time in three peaceful decades. It has had to beef up its own border units as well as air patrols and naval shipping sailing opposite the southern port of Eilat.
Israeli and Egyptian troops are therefore posted practically cheek by jowl with just a few meters separating them – a development which the 1979 peace accords made every effort to bar even in the days when Egypt had a stable regime which is far from the case today.
5. Israel is being made to accept the non-resumption of Egyptian gas supplies for the foreseeable future.
All in all, the new rulers of Egypt are tearing up the Camp David accords one by one while Israel holds silent.