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Thursday, August 9, 2012
Weekly Commentary: Critical days with Egypt – not eroding force limits

Weekly Commentary: Critical days with Egypt – not eroding force limits

Dr. Aaron Lerner Date: 9 August 2012

When you interact with a chess player you had better not think like a tic
tac toe player.

And Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy is most definitely a chess player.

The decision to temporarily allow Egypt to deploy attack helicopters in
Sinai very close to Israel’s border may very well be justified. But with
emphasis on “temporary” and with a sincere hope that we were smart enough to
formally establish just how unique the circumstances were.

Let’s be clear about the problem:

For years the Egyptians have been trying to erode the Sinai force
restrictions set in the peace treaty they signed with Israel. Force
restrictions that were a necessary condition for Israel agreeing to restore
the Sinai to Egyptian control.

The Egyptians see the force restrictions as impinging on their sovereignty.

We always considered the force restrictions as critical for the Jewish State’s
national security and, frankly speaking, with the Moslem Brotherhood leading
Egypt, we need the force restrictions more than ever.

When the Egyptians argue for dropping the force restrictions they exploit
Israel’s Achilles’ heel: an ongoing Israeli tendency not to
chapter-and-verse our agreements and treaties in policy discussions. It’s a
tendency to relate to the “spirit” of agreements rather than the actual
texts

In this case, we have the Egyptian narrative that the force limits – in
particular in the zone closest to the border with Israel – make it
impossible for them to maintain order.

The truth is that, as Mohamed Bassiouny, Egypt's former ambassador to Israel
from 1986 to 2000
told Al-Masry Al-Youm almost a year ago (25/08/2011) “the treaty allows
Egypt to put any number of police personnel in this section.”

And the quality and training of those cops is at the discretion of Egypt.

Taken to an extreme: if Egypt wanted to, it could take its most elite
commando units and do the paperwork to make them police and deploy them in
the border area. A force with both the skill and discipline to be able to
do the job without requiring equipment restricted by the treaty. And it
could do this without even consulting with Israel.

Again: the treaty, as it stands, provides Egypt the tools to enforce order
while still honoring the force restrictions.

And it would be best that Israel makes this point clear both to Egypt and to
the relevant elements of the international community.

We simply cannot afford to allow ourselves to be sucked into a situation
that these vital force restrictions are eroded.

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730
INTERNET ADDRESS: imra@netvision.net.il
Website: http://www.imra.org.il

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