That, notes Bismuth,
is perhaps the most worrying aspect of this entire story: Israel expects Egypt to confront what is happening in Sinai and regain control over the area…. No one knows though what the future will hold and what events can unfold in a region that is turning into a powder keg….
[Morsi] can assign the army the “dirty deed” of cooperating with Israel, which is its job anyway. We can still trust the Egyptian military tomorrow, but no one can promise us we’ll be able to two days from now.
In other words, by allowing the Egyptian military—if it is so inclined—to clean up the Sinai terror gangs, Israel could help create an even worse threat, especially if Morsi’s Brotherhood eventually wrests control from the Supreme Military Council.
Israeli officials are, however, reportedly skeptical that Egypt will systematically crack down on the terror. If not, then Israel could find itself facing a different dilemma if the attacks continue and especially if some of them succeed: whether to keep relying on defensive measures that may prove inadequate, or invade Sinai (like Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008-2009 when terror from those locales became intolerable) and risk—again—war with Egypt, which is what the terrorists are trying to provoke in the first place.
And the final irony is that these close-to-irresolvable dilemmas Israel now faces stem from the 1979 peace treaty, under whose terms Israel withdrew all of its forces from Sinai in the hope that this would enable peace rather than terror. A body known as the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) was created and stationed in Sinai to make sure things went smoothly. It’s still there—though hardly mentioned anymore and basically forgotten.
All this at a time when some are still obsessed with the idea of Israel withdrawing from the West Bank and setting up—with security guarantees, of course—yet another Arab state there. Take the strategic threat Sinai now poses to relatively scantly populated southern Israel, think of the axis of central Israel running from the coastal plain to Jerusalem, and multiply by a few dozen.
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