An Egyptian official cited by Israel's Ynet news portal on Monday warned that if Jerusalem does not mind its own business regarding the smuggling of terrorist arms into the Gaza Strip via the Egyptian Sinai, then Cairo will use its diplomatic clout in Africa to damage Israeli interests.
The official spoke to Ynet less than a day after Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Gheit threatened to retaliate diplomatically following Israel's public complaints that Egypt was harming peace efforts with the Palestinians by failing to curb the flow of arms, cash and terrorist know-how to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Egypt is well aware of Israel's vital interests in Africa, and will use its immense influence in the continent to harm Israel's diplomatic relations with any number of nations.
The Egyptians singled out Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, threatening to have her declared persona non grata across Africa for her public criticism of Egypt's Gaza border failures. Livni was accused of being part of a wider Jewish conspiracy to bolster efforts by some US congressmen to cut American military aid to Egypt.
On Tuesday, Israeli government officials told The Jerusalem Post that while the Egyptian threats are being taken seriously, Jerusalem is not overly concerned by them since Egypt has for years been working to thwart Israeli diplomatic gains.
As an example, one official revealed that Egypt had led an effort at the UN last month to have the first-ever Israeli-authored General Assembly resolution blocked. The official said such moves are all aimed at showing Israel that Egypt is the dominant power in the region.
Many Israeli politicians have warned for years that despite the peace treaty between them, Egypt is no friend of Israel. One politician in particular, Likud Party lawmaker Yuval Steinitz, has repeatedly pointed out that the US-funded Egyptian military continues to conduct all of its war exercises against an Israeli enemy.