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News analysis: Sinai stability remains focal point of Israeli- Egyptian cooperation

English.news.cn   2013-07-08 03:55:58            

by Adam Gonn

JERUSALEM, June 7 (Xinhua) -- After the Egyptian army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, the relations between Egypt and the Israel would continue as the two countries share a number of strategic interests, especially in Sinai Peninsula, analysts say.

"There are fundamental common interests that Egypt and Israel share, most important of which are stability in the Sinai because the lack of stability in the Sinai will present the Egyptian army with challenges," Prof. Uri Bar-Joseph, of the University of Haifa, told Xinhua on Sunday.

SECURITY CHALLENGES IN SINAI

The cornerstone of Israeli-Egyptian relations is the 1979 peace treaty. One of the main parts of the peace agreement was the return of the Sinai, which Israel has captured in the 1973 war, to Egypt and turning the peninsula into a demilitarized zone with strict rules for what types of Egyptian units could be deployed there.

While the demilitarized did provide stability between Israel and Egypt, it also turned Sinai into a more or less lawless area from which attacks could be launched against targets inside Israel as well as against Egyptian troops.

Israel faces a number of security challenges along its southern border, with Sinai functioning as smuggling route for advanced rockets to Hamas and other Palestinian groups in Gaza as well as a launching pad for attacks against Israel, Dr. Ely Karmon of the Interdisciplinary-Center in Herzliya, said.

However, the Egyptian army isn't only motivated by security concerns when it operates in Sinai but also by economic factors. " Tourism is a very import resource and the economic situation was the main factor behind the rebellion of the population. And Sinai is a very important (tourism destination) and if there is no security tourists won't come," Karmon said.

"So, the (Egyptian) army will make a strong effort to clampdown on these Islamist and the new government might try to give economic incentives to Bedouin tribe to cooperate with them, and if these will succeed the two levels, the military and the economic, they have a good chance of success," he added.

HAMAS IMPACT

The military coup in Egypt could also affect the relations between Israel and the Hamas movement that controls the Gaza strip, as Israel feared that the election of Morsi and the strong bonds between the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas have a negative impact on stability in southern Israel.

"Hamas is in a very uncomfortable situation," Karmon said, because "Hamas was surprised by the activity against their tunnels and illegal economy by the Morsi government because they thought that Morsi will give them support. And now they are now getting much less support from the new Egyptian government."

And depending on which way Hamas goes it will have an impact on the relations with Israel, he added.

Editor: yan
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