Israel eyes Egypt worriedly after Morsi overthrown
ISRAEL: Israel maintained a worried silence on Thursday
following the overthrow of Egypt's first democratically-elected
President, Mohammed Morsi, by the Egyptian army. Government officials,
who are normally quick to comment on regional developments, largely
maintained an unusual silence after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
ordered his cabinet not to comment on the crisis, press reports said.
Transport Minister Yaakov Katz was the first to speak publicly but
said very little. "We are not relating at the moment to what is going on
over there. It is an internal Egyptian issue," he told army radio.
"We must look after our own borders and our own interests and that is
what we are doing." Another official, speaking on condition of
anonymity, said Israel was watching carefully to see how the situation
"The government is closely monitoring the situation in Egypt but is
not making any predictions because things are still developing," he told
"It is important that the Egyptian people can enjoy a new level of
freedom and self-determination ... but the current situation has sent
shock waves throughout the Arab world and it is causing some concern in
Israel," he said.
News of the ouster of the Islamist president from the Muslim
Brotherhood after exactly a year in government and the mass celebrations
which followed was splashed across front pages of all the newspapers in
Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
"Revolution" was the headline in Israel's top-selling Yediot Aharonot,
while Al-Quds, the West Bank's biggest daily, led on: "Egyptian army
ousts Morsi, ends the reign of the Brotherhood." In the Hamas-run Gaza
Strip, whose rulers are ideologically close to the Muslim Brotherhood,
the news made the front page of Falestin, the enclave's lone newspaper.
Pundits acknowledged that although there was no immediate security
implications for Israel, which signed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979,
the main concern was that Islamic groups in Sinai could take advantage
of the chaos to stage attacks along the Israeli border.
"There is great uncertainty over Egypt's future and it is very
difficult for Egypt, which is caught up with internal issues, to deal
with security problems, notably from terror groups in Sinai," an Israeli
official told army radio, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Since former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February
2011, a wave of lawlessness has spread across the Sinai Peninsula, but
under Morsi, who assumed office on June 30, 2012, the army made
determined efforts to clamp down on the chaos, and had also worked to
destroy the smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Sinai, pundits noted.
Although political ties between Israel and Egypt remained chilly at
best, their two armies have maintained a good working relationship that
had even improved during Morsi's year in office, with senior military
officials telling Haaretz that security coordination "has been better
than it was during Mubarak's rule." "There will also be strategic
implications for Israel. The most essential involves the nature of the
ties between Cairo and Gaza," wrote Haaretz military analyst Amos Harel.
The paper said that the ideological closeness between the Morsi regime
and Hamas had helped "rein in" the Palestinian Islamist movement to an
extent that did not exist during the Mubarak years. "It is hard to know
whether these ties will persist when the rulers in Cairo change," Harel
The Jerusalem Post said the most worrying aspect for Israel was the
uncertainty created by the crisis.
"Israel likes stability, yearns for predictability. It abhors chaos.
And that is why the 'Arab Spring' has been so problematic from an
Israeli point of view," it said. "No one knows what forces will be
unleashed, or where they will lead." AFP