Meridor: Cease-fire may create new bond with Egypt

Deputy PM: Cairo and Jerusalem have mutual interest in seeing that Gaza not be source of crisis.

Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor 311 (R) (photo credit: David W Cerny / Reuters)
Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor 311 (R)
(photo credit: David W Cerny / Reuters)
The cease-fire with Hamas might have created a new bond between Israel and Egypt’s new government, according to Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor (Likud).
“We might have created a new architecture of an Egypt and Israel that have a common interest in seeing that Gaza does not again become a source of eruption, of bombs and rockets or the source of a crisis that endangers the stability of the region,” Meridor said.
He spoke with reporters in Jerusalem on Thursday, at a press event sponsored by the Israel Project.
Operation Pillar of Defense, he said, answered a number of diplomatic questions with respect to Egypt, US President Barack Obama and the international community.
Prior to the conflict, it was unclear what role the newly elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi would play.
But when faced with the Gaza crisis, Egypt played a supportive role, he said.
The fact that Egypt is part of the cease-fire agreement has added value, he said.
There had been concern, Meridor said, that in his second term Obama would act vindictively toward Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu or that Israel would be isolated in the international arena.
But Israel had had the backing of the international community and the US, “in spite of the prophesies of Obama being vindictive. We had very clear support from the US administration. We had solid support from the European Union,” he said. “This is not be taken lightly.”
Meridor defended Netanyahu’s decision to agree to a cease-fire, rather than launching a ground invasion of Gaza now.
The option to send ground forces into Gaza still exists, he said. If Israel is forced to go into Gaza, he added, it would have more legitimacy for that action, if the decision to do so is taken after diplomacy has failed.
“Building legitimacy while fighting a war is important,” Meridor said. “We were right in the eyes of the world. It was obvious that we could not take [the rockets] any longer, no country could take it.”
If Israel needs to, he said, it could go into Gaza. “It might exact a price, but we hope that we won’t have to.”
Islamic Jihad is an Iranian proxy, Meridor said. Israel does not want to see arms smuggled into Gaza, he said.
Meridor also addressed the Palestinian bid at the United Nations this Thursday to upgrade its status to that of non-member state. Four years ago, he said the Palestinians turned from negotiations to the unilateral pursuit of statehood.
“The change of strategy from agreement to resolution, from negotiations to pressure, may lead to a statement, not a state,” he said.
He said he hoped that countries interested in peace and stability would know that this is a dead end.
“It’s not an opening,” he said. “If [the PA] wants an agreement,” he said, “we advise them to talk.”