Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor on Monday expressed a cautious optimism that Israel-Egyptian relations would be maintained despite Sunday's presidential election victory of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamad Morsy.
Meridor's comments echoed a carefully-worded statement issued by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressing hope of
continued cooperation with the Egyptian government.
"The story in Egypt has not yet finished," Meridor said, "but we hope that the bilateral cooperation will continue and that the peace treaties signed by (former prime minister Menachem) Begin and (former Egyptian president Anwar) Sadat will be honored."
Speaking at a Jewish Agency conference in Jerusalem, Meridor added that Morsy's election victory is the latest change in an unstable Middle East. "When we look around us, everything looks quiet and calm. But in reality, the world is trembling."
Turning to the ongoing massacre of civilians by Syrian President Bashar Assad, Meridor said: "If the Syrian regime falls, and I hope it does because of its cruelty, it will be a severe blow to Iran."
Meridor also said that it is incumbent upon the international community to display resolve in confronting the Iranian threat. "There is a struggle between Iran and the civilized world. If Iran is allowed to achieve nuclear weapons status, it will change the rules of the game completely."
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. What is
not clear, however, is whether the Egyptian Foreign Ministry will continue to
have contact with its Israeli counterpart.
Not all Israeli politicians were as diplomatic as Meridor and Netanyahu. Following the announcement of the election results, far-right Likud activist Moshe Feiglin said Sunday night that recapturing the Sinai Peninsula, which Israel gave to Egypt in the 1979 peace
treaty, is a foregone conclusion.
National Union MK Michael Ben-Ari called Morsy’s
victory “the final nail in the coffin of the illusion of the peace with Egypt
that we paid a heavy price for.”
Herb Keinon and Gil Hoffman contributed to this report