Livni Mofaz Knesset 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Shaul Mofaz lashed out at
the United States on Wednesday for its handling of the Egyptian uprising, and
urged it to immediately convert the generous military assistance it gives Cairo
to civilian aid.
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“The Egyptian affair reveals a grave mistake,” said
Mofaz, a former defense minister and IDF chief of General Staff, at a Herzliya
Conference debate on the future of the Middle East peace process.
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on the United States to immediately stop all military aid to Egypt and to the
other states in the area and to convert it, without condition, to civilian
Mofaz said Jerusalem had been caught off guard by the wave of
protests that shook the Arab world in recent weeks.
“Israel and the world
were taken by surprise by the earthquake that began in Tunisia, Egypt and the
rest,” he said.
The media relations officer at the Egyptian Embassy in
Tel Aviv declined to answer The Jerusalem Post
’s questions Wednesday on the
state of Egyptian-Israeli relations amid the turmoil engulfing his country. In
fluent Hebrew, he recommended contacting the Foreign Ministry spokesman in
Cairo, but messages left there by the Post went unanswered.
afternoon session on regional implications of the unrest, Sherif El Diwany,
senior director for Middle East and North Africa at the World Economic Forum in
Switzerland, compared the situation in Egypt to a pressure cooker.
reached a point that it had to explode,” said El Diwany, who is Egyptian. “We
don’t know if we’re going to end up with the onions or the
Salman Shaikh, a Briton of Pakistani descent who heads the
Brookings Doha Center think tank in Qatar, said of the Egyptian regime, “the
system is broken... I don’t think that with President Mubarak at the helm we
will get the orderly transformation that is needed... the longer President
Mubarak stays, the more in danger he puts an orderly
Wednesday’s debate also addressed the possibility of other
Mideast countries seeing Egypt- or Tunisia-style demonstrations.
al-Khouri, an Ammanbased Lebanese economist, said he sees little chance of
similar unrest erupting in Jordan.
“First of all, Jordan is not Egypt...
The Jordanian street is not boiling,” he said. “Having said that, things are not
well in Jordan... There’s a tremendous gap between the rich and poor. This is
always a problem.”
While Jordan’s economy is growing, he cautioned, “we
have to see who it’s growing for and who is benefiting.”
Judith Miller, a
Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times
journalist now writing for City
Journal magazine, spoke of the prospects of revolution in Morocco, from which
she recently returned on a reporting trip.
With 40,000 registered NGOs,
she noted, the North African monarchy allows for a political space that doesn’t
exist in other Arab countries.
Despite the huge gap between rich and
poor, she said, a recent Carnegie Institute study showed Morocco has reduced
poverty levels by 40 percent.
The country’s relatively good governance,
she said, encouraged young people to feel “the future could be
Eyal Zisser, a senior research fellow at Tel Aviv University’s
Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, echoed the sentiments
of other experts in recommending prudence.
He told the Post
the present volatility of the region, he would caution against making any
predictions over just how things will unfold.