22/8/2011 Dagbladet: THE DANGEROUS GAME SURROUNDING SINAI
With a dramatic and not yet resolved situation in Libya, a conflict between Egypt and Israel with possible consequences for the future of the Middle East has arisen.
This weekend fully showed how a new force has risen to power in Egypt, being far less tolerant towards Israel than overthrown president Hosni Mubarak. Actually, a “cold peace” has been in existence between the two countries since the 1979 peace accords, but the Israelis have not had reasons to have fears over their southern flank. This is no more the situation.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands of Egyptians demonstrated outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo after Israeli soldiers killed five Egyptian security guards on Egyptian territory near the border to holiday destination Eilat. Mubarak is not likely to have permitted such demonstrations. A demonstrator being allowed to climb unhindered to the roof of the Israeli embassy, removing the Israeli flag, would not have been thinkable..
All this started with coordinated terrorist attacks against Israelis, nearby Eilat, including a tourist bus. Eight Israelis were killed. The perpetrators had crossed the border from Egypt, probably having travelled from Gaza through Sinai. Even though Islamic group Hamas immediately refuted any responsibility over this terrorist action, Israeli fighter planes bombed Gaza, leading to Palestinian rockets being launched at Israel. At least one Israeli and at least a score of Palestinians have been killed in this latest round of violence.
While the Arab league condemns Israel, the Americans are attempting to make the Israelis and Egyptians return to talking terms. It appeared last night as if the situation had calmed somewhat, damage, however had already taken part. Division on politics over Israel among the interim government of Egypt is one matter; something else is the Egyptian population having gained another pretext to regard the Israelis as their main enemy. If Israel had displayed somewhat more humility after the killings of the five security guards, future prospects for the two countries would have been far better. Without Egypt in a role as negotiators, as the case has been so far, things mat develop from bad to even worse in the Middle East