It is important to retain Egypt as an ally but Israel has contingency plans in
case Cairo rescinds its peace treaty with Jerusalem, former IDF chief of General
Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said, in his first public appearance as a
Speaking to the Conference of Presidents of Major American
Jewish Organizations on Monday evening, he said, “I think that the peace treaty
with Egypt, as cold as it is, is of strategic importance to the State of Israel
and I hope that that will be the case but we have to be ready for that,”
referring to the possibility that a new government in Egypt will not recognize
the peace treaty with Israel.
“We have planned for this situation,” he
The retired general said he believed the Egyptian people should
recognize the contribution of their ousted president Hosni Mubarak, and warned
against radical elements seizing power.
“Mubarak, with all the criticism
over the last three decades, was an anchor of stability in the region – we
should admit it, and I hope that would be the case in Egypt,” he said. “There is
a weakening of the moderate camp.”
Earlier Monday, Presidents’ Conference
Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein said that a secret visit he recently
made to Syria could signal that President Bashar Assad wants to improve
relations with the West.
Hoenlein confirmed in an Associated Press
interview Monday that Assad invited him to Syria. Hoenlein said he was not
acting as an envoy for Israel, but that he spent hours discussing a variety of
issues with Assad.
Asked about the trip by The Jerusalem Post, Hoenlein
“Would you believe I went there for the beach?” he answered
facetiously. “I was invited, I did not go as an emissary of the prime minister
or anyone else. I went on a humanitarian agenda and had never discussed what
happened. All of these quotes in the media are not from me.”
organization is here for its annual gathering in Israel which is taking place in
the shadow of the recent toppling of Mubarak.
“No matter what issue you
take up it’s had an impact,” he said. “If you talk about Israel-Palestinian
relations, if you talk about regional issues, talk about the peace process, talk
about Israel-US relations, talk about some of the strategic interests this now
dominates it because it’s given the issues uncertainty and unpredictability. In
the age of globalization everything is interrelated.”
He said bringing
democracy to Egypt would necessitate the creation of democratic institutions in
that country, but that it could not simply be “wished” into existence.
the first few days of the uprising in Egypt and after Mohamed ElBaradei returned
to his native Egypt to support protests there, Hoenlein was quoted by American
press as calling the former International Atomic Energy Agency head a “stooge”
“I made a reference in an obscure place and I simply said…he
tends to be lionized as this human rights guy,” Hoenlein said. “Look at his
record at the IAEA and the report in the Egyptian press that he got seven
million dollars from Iran for his presidential aspirations and... People don’t
understand who he is and I can tell you I got calls from some Egyptian
intellectuals a week later who were really appreciative.”
arguably the closet American-Jewish leader to Netanyahu, has been the director
of the Presidents’ Conference for the past 24 years. The US foreign policy
advocacy group was created at the behest of US president Dwight Eisenhower to
speak with one voice for the disparate Jewish establishment in the US.