Israel increasingly concerned about Egypt

Sunday, May 01, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

Israelis are growing increasingly concerned that Egypt is reverting to an openly hostile enemy state in the wake of its much-publicized "democratic" revolution.

The peace forged between Israel and Egypt in 1979 was a very cold peace for most of the past three decades. But, there was bilateral trade, there were no open threats, and Cairo was just as interested as Israel in curbing Islamic extremists.

All of that appears to be changing.

Egyptian Minister of Finance Samir Radwan told Kuwaiti newspaper Al Anba at the weekend that the Camp David Accord does not require Egypt to sell natural gas to Israel. Since 1979, Israel has relied on the reasonably-priced supply of gas from its neighbor.

It is expected that if Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood make a strong showing in upcoming Egyptian elections, Egypt will either significantly raise the price of gas to Israel, or shut off the supply all together.

And there is every reason to believe the Brotherhood will do well when Egyptians go to the polls, most likely in September.

The Muslim Brotherhood on Saturday announced that it will contest roughly half of the seats in the Egyptian parliament. Analysts have noted that the group is currently the most organized political force in Egypt, and has a very real chance of winning most, if not all of those seats.

If the Muslim Brotherhood comes to power, it will exacerbate another growing problem in Israel-Egypt relations, that of Cairo's shifting policies toward Gaza and its Hamas rulers.

The interim government in Egypt has already decided to open its border crossing with Gaza, allowing Gaza-based terrorists to far more easily import weapons. It has also openly embraced Hamas and the group's sponsors in the Iranian regime.

Hamas actually has its origins in the Muslim Brotherhood, and if the latter comes to power in Egypt, the Palestinian group can be expected to profit considerably.

Israeli experts warn these developments could eventually undermine the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.

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