After Israel and Egypt’s Secret Military Partnership is Revealed, Palestinian Hopes Lay in Europe

Published February 5th, 2018 - 02:04 GMT
(Rami Khoury/Al Bawaba)
(Rami Khoury/Al Bawaba)

 

  • A new report reveals a secret alliance between Israel and Egypt
  • Israeli jets struck targets in Egypt over 100 times
  • Egypt approved of Israel's actions
  • Palestinians now may have to rely more on Europe than the Middle East

 

A new bombshell report from The New York Times reveals that Israel has conducted over 100 airstrikes in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula against extremists with Egypt’s approval.

This secret military alliance, which was made public by the investigative report for the first time, is the latest in a long line of indicators that Egypt, among other Arab states, are trading advocacy for Palestine for security partnerships with Israel.

The most consistent defenders of Palestine are emerging in Europe, though their ability to pressure Israel into securing Palestinian rights are similarly limited due to their shared concerns against extremism—an issue in which Israel has became a crucial ally.

According to The New York Times report, entitled, “Secret Alliance: Israel Carries Out Airstrikes in Egypt, With Cairo’s O.K.,” Israel and Egypt have maintained their secret military partnership for over two years.

 

Violence in the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem and Israel since October 2015 has killed 245 Palestinians, 36 Israelis, and five other nationals, by an AFP count

Israeli soldier (AFP/FILE)

 

“For more than two years, unmarked Israeli drones, helicopters and jets have carried out a covert air campaign, conducting more than 100 airstrikes inside Egypt, frequently more than once a week — and all with the approval of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi,” the report alleges.

“The remarkable cooperation marks a new stage in the evolution of their singularly fraught relationship. Once enemies in three wars, then antagonists in an uneasy peace, Egypt and Israel are now secret allies in a covert war against a common foe.”

This revelation, though unprecedented in the magnitude of their partnership, is not shocking. Egypt has slowly aligned itself with Israel over the past 40 years. After Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Egypt publicly condemned the measure but privately deployed agents to push acceptance of the decision onto Egyptians via talk show hosts.

Although Egyptian officials deny both the secret military alliance and its acceptance of the capital recognition, U.S. officials seemed to confirm the partnership.

U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, supported the partnership,  “Israel does not want the bad stuff that is happening in the Egyptian Sinai to get into Israel,” he said, noting that effort to keep the burgeoning partnership secret “is not a new phenomenon.”

The strikes, aimed against the extremist group Ansar Beit al Maqdis, is meant to neutralize threats to Israel’s security near its borders. Israel shares its southern border with the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, a mountainous region that is the site of frequent attacks by extremists.

Advocacy for the Palestinian people seem to be fading in favor of security partnerships with Israel.

Saudi Arabia is also reportedly engaged in security talks with Israel on how to counter the growing Iranian threat in the region. In return, Saudi is relinquishing its hardlined pro-Palestinian stance and is also reportedly involved in helping to craft a new agreement between Israel and Palestine that would functionally dissolve the two-state solution.

Meanwhile, Palestinians are facing newfound hardships. After the U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn Trump’s Jerusalem move, he cut off funding for the U.N. agency tasked with providing aid to Palestinians throughout the Middle East, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). He slashed the initially promised donation from $125 million to $65 million.

 

Image result for palestine afp

A Palestinian protester looks toward the Israeli separation wall in The West Bank (AFP/FILE)

 

In response, European nations have stepped up their contributions to UNRWA. Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany and Russia sent their planned donations to UNRWA early to help mitigate its desperate shortage of funds, while three other European countries Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland have pledged to do the same soon.

In other words, European countries are working overtime to fill the gap in aid to Palestine left by the U.S. However, since they too value Israel as an ally in the fight against extremism, their ability to advocate on behalf of the Palestinian people may be limited.

Pro-Israel voices are beginning to support moves to make Egypt and Israel’s partnership public and no longer obfuscated by Egyptian government statements condemning their ally.

In a telling comment, U.S. Representative Eliot Engel said, “You speak with Sisi and he talks about security cooperation with Israel, and you speak with Israelis and they talk about security cooperation with Egypt, but then this duplicitous game continues… It is confusing to me.”

This “duplicitous game” to which Engel is decrying is the public criticisms of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people despite the secret alliance.

Engel, in short, is asking Egypt to muzzle their criticisms of Israel.

If such ‘security-first’ relationships with Israel continue to be cemented, Engel may get his wish, and criticism of Israel’s denial of rights to the Palestinian people may become silenced.


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