Israel extended a supportive hand to Egypt’s new leader soon after the results
of the country’s presidential elections were announced on Sunday, with the Prime
Minister’s Office issuing a carefully worded statement saying it hoped to
continue cooperation with the Egyptian government.
the democratic process in Egypt and respects the results of the presidential
elections,” read a statement the Prime Minister’s Office issued some three hours
after the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate emerged victorious.
obvious concerns about what the election of the Islamist Mohamed Morsy will mean
for bilateral relations and the future of the peace treaty, the statement read
that Israel “looks forward to continuing cooperation with the Egyptian
government on the basis of the peace treaty between the two countries, which is
a joint interest of both peoples and contributes to regional
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, well aware of how closely
the reactions from Israel will be watched, asked his ministers and deputy
ministers at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting not to talk at all publicly about
the Egyptian election results.
Officials said that because the results
did not come as any great surprise, there was no sense of emergency in
Jerusalem, with no special meetings to assess the situation held either in the
Prime Minister’s Office or the Foreign Ministry.
“This was an eventuality
that Israel has been considering for some time,” one official
Another official scoffed at all those who thought the Tahrir Square
revolution last year that deposed president Hosni Mubarak would bring liberals
to power in Egypt, and chastised Israel for “gloom-and-doom” predictions that the
Muslim Brotherhood would take over. “You see, we were not paranoid,” he
The official said that there were now basically two options before
the Muslim Brotherhood.
They could be pragmatic and come to some kind of
agreement with the military that would allow it to maintain its position in
order to avoid a confrontation with the army, and realize that to bring the
country back from an economic abyss they will have to court the West and retain
the peace treaty with Israel.
The other option, the official said, was to
push forward with a true Islamic revolution, thereby confronting the military,
Washington and Israel.
While many analysts think the Brotherhood will
take the pragmatic approach now that it is in power, there are, the official
said, many historical examples – such as the ayatollahs in Iran, the Taliban in
Afghanistan, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza – that point to the
In the meantime, he said, Jerusalem has little impact on the
events in Egypt and can do little for the time being but watch as they play
themselves out. While there is little expectation that the Presidential Palace
under Morsy will begin a dialogue with Israel, most expect that channels of
communication will continue between the security establishments.
not clear, however, is whether the Egyptian Foreign Ministry will continue to
have contact with its Israeli counterpart.
For the time being, officials
said, Israel’s Ambassador Yaakov Amitai and a small staff continue to work out
of a temporary residence in Cairo. Following the ransacking of the embassy last
September, no new permanent location for the embassy has been found.