Opinion: A row over IDF arresting Islamic Jihad operatives in West Bank, having promised Egyptians not to do so in recent Gaza truce talks, has already prompted Egypt’s state media to go back to referring to Israel as ‘Zionist entity’

When discussing the relations between Israel and Egypt, a few aspects must be taken into account.

For one, military cooperation between the two countries has never been stronger, and the Israeli security establishment is gaining more and more respect with Egyptian Intelligence Minister General Abbas Kamel, who operates under the auspices of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

 עבד אל פתאח א-סיסי, יאיר לפיד
Yair Lapid, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (Photo: AFP, Reuters)


Egypt despises the Islamic Jihad terror group, which is supplied with money and weapons by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Cairo is also wary of Hamas, which is closely connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, El-Sisi’s political rivals in Egypt.

It is important to remember, however, that Israel and Egypt’s relations, as cordial as they seem, still permit them to have separate contradicting interests alongside common ones, such as the fight against terror.

Additionally, Israeli tourism to Sinai, free of security limitations, is booming these days. Israel is pumping gas to Egypt, even though it has been of little assistance to the Egyptian economy.

All this despite that Egyptian tourists are hardly ever permitted to enter Israel, and all attempts to incorporate Israeli high-tech in Egypt have been rebuffed with bizarre excuses.

Egyptian Intelligence Chief Abbas Kamel
Director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate Abbas Kamel (Photo: AFP)


If we take these facts into consideration, it’s hard to call the recent tensions between El-Sisi and Prime Minister Yair Lapid a true crisis, born out of Israel’s alleged lack of compliance to the truce deal brokered by Egypt following the recent flare-up in Gaza.

Israel continued to operate against the Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, despite allegedly promising the Egyptian official not to do so. But the tensions will likely pass after senior Israeli officials clarify their positions to Egyptian Director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate Abbas Kamel.

Nonetheless, the smart thing to do would be to have the new generation of Israeli diplomats learn from the experienced security officials on how to maintain trust, not to make hasty statements, and avoid stepping on open wounds.

נפתלי בנט וא סיסי בפגישה בשארם א שייח במצרים
Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi (Photo: GPO)


El-Sisi, mind you, promoted proper professional relations with former Israeli premiers – Benjamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett – just as he is doing now with Lapid. Egypt is certainly taking into consideration that Israel is in the midst of an election cycle, meaning the next prime minister will not necessary be lucky enough to enjoy this tolerant attitude.

Egypt’s state media, in the meantime, has gone back to refer to Israel as “the Zionist enemy,” but nothing has been said about a breach of trust between the countries. This hints that the tensions symbolize a minor crisis, and that El-Sisi is too busy with other matters to pay much attention to this road bump.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, U.S. President Joe Biden, and Israel – all thanked El-Sisi for his mediation efforts during Operation Breaking Dawn. Meanwhile, Abbas got himself in trouble over controversial Holocaust remarks in Germany, and Biden hinted that he has no intention on getting too involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So, who’s left? El-Sisi.

נשיא מצרים עבד אל פתח א סיסי ועידה בשארם א שייח
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (Photo: AFP PHOTO / HO / EGYPTIAN PRESIDENCY)


The Egyptian leader maintains a seasoned crew of diplomats in Tel Aviv and Ramallah, and has access to a rich source of intelligence.

Additionally, El-Sisi is trying to create a public image of a warm leader, who addresses his nation at eye level, meets local children, grants gifts to widows, and does everything a humane leader would do.

However, at his core, he remains cold and rational; his eyes remain wide open, and he strategically calculates every move according to the agenda of Egyptian interests.

As reported by Ynetnews