I keep hearing about how the bottom line for the U.S. is preservation of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty. The Brotherhood and ElBaradei have vowed to uphold it. So just what does that mean? Per Wikipedia:
The 1979 Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty … was signed in Washington, D.C. on the 26th of March 1979, following the 1978 Camp David Accords, which were signed by Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and were witnessed by United States President Jimmy Carter.
The peace treaty was signed sixteen months after Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat’s visit to Israel in 1977 after intense negotiation.
The main features of the treaty were the mutual recognition of each country by the other, the cessation of the state of war that had existed since the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and the complete withdrawal by Israel of its armed forces and civilians from the Sinai Peninsula which Israel had captured during the Six-Day War in 1967. Egypt agreed to leave the area demilitarized. The agreement also provided for the free passage of Israeli ships through the Suez Canal and recognition of the Strait of Tiran, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Taba—Rafah straits as international waterways.
The agreement notably made Egypt the first Arab country to officially recognize Israel.
As part of the agreement, the US began economic and military aid to Egypt, and political backing for its subsequent governments. From the Camp David peace accords in 1978 until 2000, the United States has subsidized Egypt’s armed forces with over $38 billion worth of aid. Egypt receives about $2 billion annually.
Here is the wording of the entire treaty.
So what is my point? Most of the language is devoted to managing the Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai, and the ensuing military arrangements. Per my reading, there is nothing specifying any responsibilities regarding sealing the Egypt/Gaza border. The treaty references liaison committees and the like, which can be ARGUED to be part of the treaty.
Now note Article VII:
- 1. Disputes arising out of the application or interpretation of this Treaty shall be resolved by negotiations.
- 2. Any such disputes which cannot be settled by negotiations shall be resolved by conciliation or submitted to arbitration.
The Israelis may have concerns about whether abrogation of the treaty may restore some state of war, but even if the treaty is upheld, suppose the Egyptian government stopped enforcing its part of the blockade of the Gaza Strip? Remember the shock waves sent through Egypt when Hamas breached the fence for a while? This is indeed cause for Israeli panic. They could howl about it being a breaking of the treaty, but so what? See Article VII above. If they sent troops into the Sinai, that would be Israel breaking the treaty. If they had to have their army seal the Gaza from within Gaza, that would be an enormous setback, if nothing else weakening their position vis-a-vis Lebanon/Hezbollah and Iran. Even the threat of this is sending chills up Netanyahu’s spine.
In this regard (and I’m by no means settling for this), the Egyptian revolution has won a major victory.