Israel will not tolerate continuing terrorist attacks from the Sinai Peninsula, Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned new Egyptian president-elect Mohamed Morsy at a meeting of his Independence faction Monday at the Knesset.
When terrorist attacks emerged from Sinai over the last several months, Israel limited its response, in part because it did not want to be seen as interfering in the Egyptian election. Now that the election is over and a victor has been declared, Barak toughened his talk regarding Israel’s southern neighbor.
“We will not accept our citizens’ way of life being harmed and we will not tolerate citizens getting hit from Sinai and terror,” Barak said.
“We have an obligation to our citizens in the Gaza periphery, who are showing determination and strength.”
Barak praised the Iron Dome rocket defense system for providing Israeli forces added flexibility and freedom to act and helping build deterrence.
“The IDF will continue to take action against terrorists,” he vowed. “We will not accept rocket fire on the South.”
The defense minister said he “respects the democratic process in Egypt” and expressed his expectations that Cairo would honor the 1979 peace treaty with Israel.
Calling the treaty a “bedrock of stability in the Middle East,” he said Israel would monitor developments in Egypt, in particular as they pertain to security, stability, peace and regional quiet. The Egyptian leadership, he added, has both opportunities and challenges ahead of it.
Vice Premier and Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz said he expects that Israel’s relationship with the regime and the people of Egypt will “be as it should for two countries that have a peace treaty between them.”
“That is our goal and I believe it is the goal of the Egyptians as well,” he told a meeting of the Kadima faction in Ashkelon.
Intelligence Agencies Minister Dan Meridor on Monday expressed cautious optimism that Israeli-Egyptian relations would be maintained despite Morsy’s victory.
“The story in Egypt has not yet finished,” he 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.”
The intelligence agencies minister 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,” said Meridor.