Sunday, April 21, 2024

Egypt Issues Ultimatum to Israel While US Influence Wanes: Back Off Gaza or We’re Out

HomeWAREgypt Issues Ultimatum to Israel While US Influence Wanes: Back Off Gaza...

As the Israeli military mobilizes for a major ground offensive on the Gaza city of Rafah, Egypt has responded with a shock maneuver – threatening to unilaterally withdraw from the critical 1979 peace treaty that first normalized relations between Israel and an Arab state. Brokered by President Jimmy Carter at Camp David, the deal paved the way for Egypt to become the first Arab league member to formally recognize Israel after decades of hostilities. While far from creating warm relations, it opened channels for diplomacy and economic ties to develop. Now over 40 years later, a new generation of Middle East leaders are grappling with maintaining this alliance as the civilian death toll mounts in Gaza.

Egypt’s dramatic warning represents the harshest concrete measure taken by any nation against Israel’s intensifying military campaign so far. As the civilian casualty count has climbed, the United States has mainly stuck to formulaic criticism and pleas for de-escalation without tangible penalties for its Israeli allies. By contrast, Egypt is now threatening to scrap the seminal Camp David Accords altogether – a move that would jeopardize billions in US military assistance along with over 4 decades of intricate cooperation built between Israel and Egypt across security, energy and more. Yet Egyptian officials insist that enabling policies accelerating Gaza’s humanitarian nightmare now outweighs considerations of economic and diplomatic self-interest.

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The potential unraveling of the Camp David treaty portends seismic upheaval for a region already mired in turmoil. After Egypt demonstrated Arab-Israeli reconciliation was possible, Jordan, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates eventually followed suit over the ensuing decades through US-brokered normalization pacts. Just last year, a landmark $15 billion Israeli-Egyptian deal opened the door for major Egyptian imports of Israeli offshore gas. Negotiated access to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula has also been crucial for Israel to keep threats at bay along their southern border. By tearing up Camp David, Egypt now risks triggering a domino effect as tenuous diplomatic and economic bridges painstakingly built over generations could crumble.

Egypt’s defiant posture against Israel also lays bare the gradual isolation of the United States over its response to the Gaza crisis. Despite recent rulings from the International Court of Justice excoriating Israeli military actions in Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has remained defiant – vowing to achieve “complete victory” through urban assaults on militant strongholds like Rafah. Over a dozen national leaders ranging from top European allies to Canada and Australia have described the impending Gaza operation as catastrophic and unacceptable. Yet the United States has so far failed to curb its staunch Israeli ally either through forceful public criticism or threats to pull portions of Israel’s hefty US aid – stuck to tread a delicate line that has satisfied no one.

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Instead, scenes of desperate Gaza civilians fuel growing outrage across the Arab street. Mass protests from Morocco to Iraq have pressured governments to sever ties with Israel as the US flounders to mount a credible policy response. As Arab leaders warn the White House that enabling the killing of Gazan civilians is destroying US standing, Egypt already is bracing for an influx of Palestinian refugees. Bulldozers are constructing sprawling refugee encampments along the Gaza border even while Egyptian officials maintain that permanently absorbing hundreds of thousands of displaced Gazans into the Sinai Peninsula remains a non-starter. With Gaza’s population facing a stark choice between death or displacement, Egypt is battening down the hatches – implicitly acknowledging that US assurances cannot forestall the coming storm.

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The dissolution of the Camp David Accords would further compound the swirling humanitarian emergency afflicting the Gaza strip. But Egypt has plainly signaled through both words and actions that it believes doubling down on the troubled status quo now carries even greater long-term risks for its people. As the desperate cries for reprieve from Gazans collide with silence from Washington, Cairo appears to have passed the point of no return. Mindful of its own citizens’ outrage, Egypt refuses to stand by idly as an ascendant Israel attempts to settle the Palestinian question through brute lethal force alone thanks to seemingly unconditional US backing. With the US failing to credibly restrain its ally’s ambition to decisively crush Palestinian militant threats, the pillars of America’s four-decade diplomatic legacy in the Middle East now teeter on the verge of collapse.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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