Sunday, August 21, 2011

Israel and Egypt Seek to Defuse Crisis

by Rick Moran

Hamas terrorists have been firing rockets into Israel for the past two days despite the IDF's attempts to seek them out and destroy them.

One such raid slipped into Egyptian territory where 5 Egyptian soldiers were killed in a confrontation. Egypt recalled its ambassador and big demonstrations are going on in Cairo protesting the Israeli action.

Now both sides are going to meet and try and walk back from the escalating situation:

However, there were signs that Egypt and Israel were both trying to ease the gravest crisis in their relations since longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak's overthrow in February.

The spat has highlighted the dilemma faced by the generals now ruling Egypt, caught between pressure to preserve the 1979 peace treaty with Israel and popular hostility to the Jewish state, perceived as trampling on national dignity.

Egypt said on Saturday it would recall its ambassador from Israel after the killings that it said breached the peace treaty. The Foreign Ministry summoned the Israeli charge d'affaires to protest and demand a joint investigation.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel regretted the deaths and he told the army to conduct the investigation with Egypt, which responded with cautious approval.

A delegation led by an unidentified high-ranking Israeli envoy arrived in Cairo on a private plane from Tel Aviv on Sunday to a low-key reception, airport sources said. Four cars drove onto the tarmac to whisk the delegation away.

Officials from Egypt's defense ministry and the ruling army council were due to meet on Sunday morning, according to a cabinet official who asked not to be named.

Papering over what happened will not be good enough in the long run. With the Muslim Brotherhood set to win power in elections later this year, the survival of the peace treaty remains an open question.

Rick Moran


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