Morsi’s message

Egypt’s new leader Mohamed Morsi is proving to be a cunning communicator, at least so far as what he puts across to undiscerning Western ears. He manages to sound exceedingly moderate and reasonable, while enunciating unreasonable, indeed radical demands that must be met or else. He in effect says that “it’s my way or the highway.”

Thus, while seeming to affirm his commitment to the 33-year-old peace with Israel, Morsi at the same time piles up impediments upon which he now makes that peace contingent.

The inescapable inference is that if his conditions are not accepted, he would consider himself absolved of his obligation to keep the peace.

Add to that the fact that his stipulations are all but impossible to accede to and a whole other picture emerges than that which is commonly perceived overseas.

Two examples are particularly disturbing. The first is the strident suggestion from Cairo that it is essential that the 1979 Camp David peace treaty with Israel be amended. What Morsi wants is abrogation of the clauses that demilitarize Sinai and prohibit Egyptian army presence there.

Morsi would rather his foreign audiences forget that Israel gave up Sinai and that its one tangible gain from its great concession was the safety of demilitarization that created a sizable buffer zone. Thus Israel was assured that it could not be surprised by a sudden attack from Egypt. No military entry into Sinai could go undetected.

Any departure from this would negate Israel’s most important security safeguard.

Therefore, what Morsi demands should more than raise a few eyebrows. Additionally, his pretext doesn’t quite hold water. Morsi insists that Israel’s refusal to allow unrestricted Egyptian military might in Sinai bars him from curtailing terrorism and crime in that lawless region.

But that’s disingenuous. Morsi cannot put the onus for anti-Israeli terrorism on Israel. In territories covered by a peace agreement, the danger of deadly attacks should not exist. It is not what peace partners should expect.

Combating terrorism is not a function of massive military deployment but of good intelligence and primarily of good intentions to honor obligations. Hence when Cairo embraces Hamas, which dispatches hit squads into Sinai and colludes with assorted jihadists there (who are directed from the Gaza Strip), goodwill appears in short supply.

Heavy armor and artillery in Sinai will not defeat Beduin gangs but will undermine Israel’s most basic existential interests. Morsi is not so naïve as to not understand this.

The same goes for his recent assertion to The New York Times that Egypt will not consider the peace treaty with Israel honored as long as Israel has not evacuated Judea and Samaria and squeezed itself back in the 1949 armistice lines. Again Morsi knows that this endangers Israel, that the creation of a Palestinian state was not part of Israel’s Camp David undertakings and that he is retroactively putting up new conditions to a done deal while misleadingly claiming that Israel has not fulfilled its treaty responsibilities.

In fact, Israel had scrupulously lived up to its every last commitment – to the point of uprooting communities, relinquishing energy sources that it discovered and developed, endangering its shipping and opting for reversible security arrangements. Not only that. Years after the 1982 evacuation of Sinai, Israel further ceded the last contested sliver at Taba over which it had quite a solid claim.

To come after all that and impute ill-will and duplicity to Israel is not to send a hopeful message of the sort that Morsi pretends to be transmitting to all and sundry.

It is a shame that the Times interviewer asked such softball questions and did not press Morsi harder on some of his more unsettling pronouncements. As is, it is hard for Israelis to avoid the fear that things are going the wrong way in Cairo, that it is compounding obstructions to any future Israeli insistence on enforcing the mutually binding treaty, that it plans to make Israel hostage to Palestinian intransigent whims or else forfeit the peace Israel had already paid for with Egypt. None of this bodes well.

10 thoughts on “Morsi’s message

  1. It is hardware to understand the reason why the same people and governments that want peace in near East between Egypt and Israel saying that a larger war could develop, want a war between Israel and Iran, altough them know that a lager war can develop, among same countries…..

  2. Could anything better have been expected from a Muslim brother ?
    It must be made clear to Morsi, where the red line is…NO invasion of the Sinai by Egypts army !
    His demand of the evacuation of Judea and Samaria is a well known cheap propaganda nonsense and should be ignored completely…
    Even a Muslim brother should know, where the line in the sand is drawn…!

  3. Egypt’s new leader is as cunning a communicator as his predecessors, mainly because he, as well as every other leader in the Arab world has an easy target: Israel, or the Zionist entity, or whatever other chosen workaround moniker.

    President Morsi may and will utter assorted statements as “it’s my way or the highway”, he is still bound to the money (call it “aid”) that’s coming from the U.S.A. No matter one may think of the current U.S. administration, no one in the White House will allow president Morsi to go “his way” if that way means changing the status quo in the Middle East in general, and towards Israel specifically. Money is money, and it talks high.

    That doesn’t mean that all is going to remain “nice” as in status quo ante, and there will be tensions and confrontations in the Sinai peninsula. Israel has been living (generic term) with that kind of cripple situation before there was a peace treaty, of sorts, with Egypt.

    It’s easy to agree with you, Sarah, that all this does not bid well.

    When did anything bid well in our region?

    Chag Succoth sameach.

    • I don’t think that Washington understands the Morsi double-talk. Washington appears to be responding favorably to his pledges of support for “democracy” and for previous accords, which he makes because he desperately needs Western funds. Egypt is in deep financial trouble.

  4. “It is a shame that the Times interviewer asked such softball questions” – The West’s pro-Obama and pro-Islam media is uniformly anti-Netanyahu. It’s essential for Israel’s survival, in these fateful times, to rally around its elected prime-minister. Those in the local media and academia who echo the world’s lowest anti-Semitic reporters are playing with fire. History, indeed, will not give this nation another chance. It may not matter to some Jews, both in Israel and the pre-elections US, but surely it matters to most of our people.

  5. Morsi is not a cunning communicator. Western leaders are delusional dupes who read into his words what they wish to hear and deny anything that doesn’t match their delusions. The phenomena is nothing new. Hitler wrote Mein Kampf and told us who he was but Western leaders chose to ignore it until it was too late. Stalin and Mao showed us what they were early in political lives and Western intelligentsia chose to ignore it. Obama told us from the time he was a state senator who he was but we refused to listen and we still wish to deny it.

    • How right you are William. I can only pray that there are still more of us that listened than there are of those that see Obama as their savior.

  6. For those who maintain that Obama is friendly towards Israel, here’s an opportunity for Obama to step in and insist that the Sinai remain de-militarized. But most people know that won’t happen.

  7. ‘In fact, Israel had scrupulously lived up to its every last commitment’
    You have to hand it to Israel’s neighbors,they know how the game is played, Israel gives and they take.
    Israel’s weakness makes it too tempting to pass up as they know that since the disastrous peace process began Israel’s new name is ‘capitulate’.
    It’s a pitiful situation when Israel has yet to turn the tables and get something other in return from their pathological faux peace partners except for funerals and attacks.
    When Israel suffers from such a vacuum of leadership like the fearful loser and lap dog Ehud Barak who can only go after his fellow Foreign Minister Lieberman for telling the truth about Abbas is it any wonder why Morsi is trying to squeeze what little is left from these secular faith challenged idiots whose only game is appease and retreat and bulldoze Jewish homes in order to placate the Islamic hordes who see and smell the weakness of Israel.

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