'Egypt president hopefuls see necessity of peace treaty'

Intel chief Kochavi tells cabinet Camp David Accords safe, but warns of slackening security and gov't control in Sinai.

Egyptian honor guard in Cairo 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Amel Pain/Pool)
Egyptian honor guard in Cairo 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Amel Pain/Pool)
The current Egyptian leadership – as well as the leading candidates for the country’s leadership – recognize the strategic importance of the peace treaty with Israel, Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the head of military intelligence, told the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.
Kochavi’s rather sanguine assessment of how the future leadership in Cairo views the agreements was tempered, however, by his assessment that there has been a slackening of security and governmental control in the Sinai – and an increase in arms smuggling and likelihood of terrorist actions.
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Kochavi said the upheaval in the Arab world is attributable to a number of different factors – including the increase in the number of youth exposed to Western human rights, a widening gap between the rich and poor, the weakening of the middle class and the usage of satellite news networks and social networks to spur people to action.
In addition, he said, masses fear of the regimes and their security forces has finally been cracked.
Kochavi said that what was most apparent in the events was the impact of the “street” and public opinion on decision- makers. He said that the need of the Arab rulers to look at the public as a partner in dialogue is something they didn’t need to do in the past.
Kochavi said that while at first the radical camp in Iran gained a sense of security from the events, it has slowly become concerned about them – especially the prospect of losing Syria as one of the key links in the radical axis.
Nevertheless, he said, Iran – despite the heavy economic sanctions – is taking advantage of the recent developments to try and spread its influence, pouring money, weapons and knowledge into those in the region who share its radical agenda.
In Gaza, Kochavi said, Hamas is the dominant force, although recently the Islamic Jihad’s military strength has been on the increase. Hamas, he said, still prefers dialogue as a way of getting rival organizations inside the Gaza Strip to abide by its wishes.