Egypt’s embrace of Bennett highlights divisions in Israeli cupboard

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi rolled out the pink carpet for Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett Sept. 13. The assembly, which came about on the Presidential Compound within the Sinai resort city of Sharm al-Sheikh, was heat and pleasant by any customary.

While the assembly was happening, nonetheless, a stabbing came about within the crowded buying space of Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station. Two yeshiva college students had been reasonably injured within the assault. The perpetrator, a younger Palestinian man from Hebron, was taken into custody.

News stations reporting on the profitable assembly between Sisi and Bennett minimize to the scene of the assault. Though the incident ended with none deaths, it fueled fear that Israel and the Palestinians are headed towards an escalation of violence.

The stabbing interfered with media consideration on Bennett’s state go to, throughout which the press was speculated to focus solely on Egypt’s many public gestures towards Israel. For one, the Israeli flag flew proper beside the Egyptian flag. The press made a degree of noting that former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by no means obtained such gestures from the Egyptians.

The assembly lasted greater than three hours. Part of was a casual dialog for the 2 leaders to get to know one another.

Just earlier than flying again to Israel, Bennett made a press release to the cameras: “I have just completed my first visit with the president of Egypt. It was a very important meeting and a very good one, too. First and foremost, we created the infrastructure for a deep relationship between us in the future.”

The Israeli prime minister and the Egyptian president reportedly mentioned tensions in Gaza, relations with the Palestinian Authority, Iran and safety cooperation between the 2 nations.

The assembly with Sisi, initiated by Egypt, additionally helped Bennett construct his popularity as a statesman. It was the newest in a collection of essential conferences with world leaders, together with King Abdullah II of Jordan and US President Joe Biden within the White House, a powerful tally for somebody who solely entered the prime minister’s workplace three months in the past.

After the assembly, skeptics requested why the Egyptians had been so fast to embrace Bennett so warmly and publicly.

People shut Bennett mentioned merely that Bennett had obtained hotter remedy from the Egyptians than his predecessor. It is, nonetheless, price remembering that the decade-long relationship between Sisi and Netanyahu was robust. True, the Israeli flag didn’t fly alongside the Egyptian one once they met, however most of their conferences came about out of the general public eye. During his time in workplace, the 2 nations had maintained safety and intelligence cooperation of the very best order.

What did change? According to Army Radio commentator for Arab Affairs Jackie Hugi, “There are no free hugs. The Egyptians showed warmth, but that was nothing new. What was new was the effort to shine a spotlight on this warm relationship.” Hugi defined to Al-Monitor, “The Egyptians’ ultimate goal is Washington. Israel is the means to establishing a good relationship with the Biden administration, especially since the US government is unhappy with human rights violations in Egypt — and that’s putting it mildly.”

From a diplomatic perspective, there will be little doubt that this assembly was a mirrored image of the adjustments in management in Washington and Jerusalem over the previous few months. A brand new authorities in Washington led by the Democrats and a brand new authorities in Israel that features the left and even an Arab occasion enable for a change in approach to the Israeli-Palestinian battle. Under the Netanyahu authorities, negotiations had been deadlocked, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was weakened and Hamas grew stronger within the worldwide area. On the opposite hand, the Abraham Accords additionally proved that Israel can signal peace agreements with Arab states with out going by means of Ramallah.

That period is over. On Sept. 12, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid launched a diplomatic plan for financial peace within the Gaza Strip, involving reconstruction and restoration in Gaza in alternate for calm. Senior Israeli officers led by Defense Minister Benny Gantz opened a direct channel of communications with Abbas in Ramallah with a collection of private conferences and telephone calls. Bennett could also be a right-wing prime minister and he could have described Abbas within the harshest phrases previously, however he can not cease his leftist companions within the authorities from advancing their worldview.

Inevitably, the primary folks to congratulate Bennett on his assembly with Sisi had been ministers representing the left. In distinction, right-wing members of the Bennett authorities, together with Justice Minister Gideon Saar of the New Hope occasion, had been conspicuously silent.

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz tweeted, “Finally, an official meeting, as is only appropriate. This is another important change being led by our government. We are strengthening regional ties after years of deadlock. It is in Israel’s clear interest to enter into dialogue and cooperate with our closest neighbors, chief among them the Palestinians, in the hope that with effort, this will lead to a diplomatic solution.”

Minister of Transportation Merav Michaeli took the same approach as head of the Labor Party. She tweeted enthusiastically in Hebrew and English, “This is what change looks like. … Peace with our neighboring allies is part of the Zionist vision that the Labor Party and I believe in wholeheartedly. Strengthening these links is critical for our political-military standing in the Middle East.”

In distinction, the precise attacked Bennett for breaking his guarantees and failing to assault Hamas, regardless of the rockets fired from Gaza into Israel over the previous few days. They claimed that the rationale he cared extra about his assembly with Sisi, who has requested him to keep up calm.

One particular person to make the most of this weak point was the chief of the opposition. Netanyahu broke a number of days of social media silence to remark whereas Bennett was nonetheless in Egypt. “In an effort to give more free gifts to the Palestinians and to restore the Palestinian issue to the international agenda,” the federal government is failing to manage the coronavirus disaster and the state is being weakened, strategically and security-wise.”

Bennett should be deeply entangled in a political disaster. Otherwise, it’s laborious to clarify an assault by his personal Yamina occasion’s quantity two, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, on Abbas this morning, at some point after Bennett’s assembly with Sisi. Shaked, Bennett’s most stalwart ally, informed the International Conference on the War on Terror at Reichman University that Bennett wouldn’t be assembly with Abbas. “When it comes to Abbas, my opinion is well known. It has not changed. Abbas pays money to terrorists who murder Jews. He sues IDF soldiers and commanders at The Hague and therefore is not a partner. The prime minister won’t meet with him and doesn’t intend to meet with him.” 

Her phrases had been politically vital. Shaked is believed to coordinate every part she says with Bennett. She helps him preserve his voter base on the precise by adopting a tough line when he can’t to take action himself in his capability as prime minister.


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