Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Shalom Cohen held a press conference on Monday to mark the end of his five-year term in Egypt. Cohen commended political relations between Tel Aviv and Cairo, at the same time describing obstacles hindering cultural relations as “a tragedy.”
Three prominent Egyptian journalists were present at the conference: Hussein Serag from October magazine, Yehia Ghanem from Al-Ahram, and Hossam el-Aidi from Al-Gamahir magazine. The other attendees were foreign reporters.
According to AFP, Cohen said that the number of visits made by senior level Israeli officials to Egypt over the past five years exceeds the number of visits made to some European countries or other very friendly countries.
The Israeli ambassador also mentioned that Egypt had received both Israeli President Shimon Perez and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu three times in one year.
“Egyptian-Israeli cooperation in security issues has attained an unprecedented level,” Cohen said.
Meanwhile, Emad Gad, chief editor of Mokhtarat Israelia, a periodical published by Al-Ahram that features translated selections from the Israeli press, said that Cohen’s statements were “correct and logical,” and pointed out that cooperation between the two countries over security issues is developing.
Israel has not caused any problems on the border with Egypt during Cohen’s five year term, said Gad, in contrast to Palestinian Hamas. Gad said Hamas’s militancy was responsible for the rapprochement between Egypt and Israel.
More evidence that little has yet changed since the Mobarak era on a foreign policy front; from the Mobarak days of unrepresentative complicity, in price fixing Gas to the benefit of Israel against the Egyptian taxpayer, to the disgusting collaboration in the blockade/occupation of Gaza (especially during dire periods such as the ‘cast lead’ war/massacre) amongst other things… the loyalty was reciprocated near the end by Israel, mind you, as they offered Mobarak asylum.
Though there were initial signs of promise, it seems as if they were almost well-calculated moves at feigning a public face of change - with the Rafah crossings far from unconditionally ‘open’ like they said they were planning, and gas exports to Israel remaining in place, despite popular opinion (and continued action) against it.
Though there were indeed positive signs of change at first - towards policy by popular mandate, and with human concern regarding the blockade, rather than complicity - it’s little inside glances like the above article, that make you question if anything has truly changed at all… it remains to be seen how this regional relationship will pan out in the future, with the on-going protests in Tahrir and the upcoming elections.
This is fascinating because according to the latest Brookings Institute poll on Arab Opinions,
I’d imagine that support for a peace treaty ensures that many policies akin to those under Mubarak remain partially or fully in place, right? I don’t know about you but with much of the press either inflating minute acts of resistance against Israel within Egypt (such as storming the embassy) or ignoring such acts altogether (such as negative Israel chants/banners during the protest), I’m surprised that the figure is at 37%. Maybe it’s not as easy simply weeding out Mubarak’s policies towards Israel, maybe they have some support from a strong majority of the populace for some reason unbeknownst to me with this data set. However as is always the case with these type of public opinion polls, tread carefully and try not to make any strong assertions based off of them.