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Not only Israel: US brings Egypt closer – Arutz Sheva

Trump and Sisi at the Whit House

Reuters

US President Donald Trump hosted Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the White House on Monday evening.

Former President Obama’s relations with the Egyptians since al-Sisi’s rise to power were considered lukewarm at best, after al-Sisi overthrew democratically elected Hosni Mubarak, a strong supporter of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood organization which spawned Hamas. Obama had made overtures to the vehemently anti-Israel Muslim Brotherhood and in order to punish al-Sisi, cancelled a large sum of aid to Egypt. In response, al-Sisi turned to Rusia.

Trump seems interested in opening a new page in US-Egypt relations, as has Israel.

“We agree on so many things,” the American president said at the start of the meeting, adding, “I just want it to be clear that we stand 100 percent behind President al-Sisi, and he did a great job when his country suffered from difficult times.”

“We support Egypt and its citizens, and our backing is worth a lot, you have important friends here in the US and I am one of them,” Trump said to al-Sisi.

The presidents shook hands, and then the President of Egypt said, “This is my first visit since I took office several years ago, and I have a deep appreciation for President Trump, who is facing the evil,” alluding to Iran.

“We’re promoting our relationship here and are going to be good friends for a long time,” Trump added.

Trump ignored journalists’ questions about the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.

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April 3, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Egypt military says top jihadist killed in Sinai – The Times of Israel

CAIRO, Egypt Egypts military said Sunday a founder of a extremist faction in North Sinai that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group was killed in an air strike.

A total of 18 extremely dangerous insurgents were killed and others wounded in raids carried out on March 18, it said.

Among those killed was Salem Selmi el-Hamadeen, known as Abu Anas al-Ansari, a founder and top member of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the military said on its official Facebook page.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis is the name used by the group before it pledged allegiance to IS in November 2014.

IS reported the death of the militant, active in the Sinai peninsula ever since the mid-2000s, in its weekly newsletter Al-Nabaa last Thursday.

Ansari joined the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group, becoming one of its first members, and since jihad began in Sinai he was one of its building blocks, IS said.

He was previously a member of Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad, a group that claimed a string of bombings at Red Sea resorts in the Sinai from 2004 to 2006 killing more than 100 people, it said.

IS said Ansari had been jailed, and that he had escaped during Egypts 2011 uprising against longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.

The jihadists have killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and cracked down on his supporters, killing hundreds and jailing thousands of them.

The attacks have mostly taken place in North Sinai, though they have also been carried out in other parts of the country including Cairo.

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Egypt’s ambassador to Israel: Peace between Egypt and Israel is … – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Egyptian Ambassordor Hazem Khairat With INSS’ Amos Yadlin. (photo credit:ANNA AHRONHEIM)

Forty years after president Anwar Sadat made his historic visit to Jerusalem, and 38 years since the signing of a peace treaty between the two countries, Egypts ambassador to Israel has warned against continued settlement building, saying it threatens Israels security.

A viable Palestinian state cannot happen with continued settlement expansion, Ambassador Hazem Khairat said at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv on Thursday. The continued building of settlements, he said, threatens Israels security as desperation and extremism is only fueled when this happens. The absence of hope increases tensions and could lead to violence which would only benefit the extremists on both sides.

A two-state solution is the only possible way forward, according to Khairat, and Cairo is ready to help the sides reach the necessary compromise, but the role of the international community, especially the US, is indispensable, he said.

We look forward to continue to work with our allies, especially the United States under President Donald Trump, because once there is peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians there will be regional security.

Khairat said that Sadats visit to Jerusalem not only paved the way for four decades of bilateral peace but also initiated the entire peace process to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

Forty years ago no one thought Egypt and Israel could reach peace, but we did, Khairat said, adding: Our peace is just like a leaf of tree that needs to be taken care of in order to grow and flourish.

Also speaking at the event marking 40 years since Sadats visit, Israels Ambassador to Egypt David Govrin said, Sadats visit to Israel was the beginning of a long road of peace between the two countries.

But Govrin was critical, noting that no Egyptian leader has come to Israel since that visit, except for president Hosni Mubarak, who came for the funeral for Yitzhak Rabin but made it clear that he only came for the funeral and not an official visit.

Nevertheless, the ambassador admitted that there are close ties between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi that are based on trust and mutual respect.

The joint effort to combat terrorism, such as that by Islamic State in Sinai, has brought about unprecedented levels of collaboration, he said, adding that it is obvious that the two countries need to work together regarding security in the Sinai Peninsula.

But Govrin warned that if ties between the countries remain predominantly based on the military, over time peace between the two could erode.

The relations between Israel and Egypt rely to too great of an extent on the military leg. Peace needs to stand on two legs, the military and financial for the civilians if it to forge deep and true roots. It is only with a combination of the two that will ensure long-term cooperation.

Govrin said that the views of peace between the two countries are completely different in each; for Israel the objective of signing a peace treaty with Cairo was normalization (culture, financial, tourism), while for the Egyptians it was to put an end to war.

While we are getting closer and closer we are still not there yet, the ambassador said, referring to a performance he attended a few months back at Egypts national theater where after the show the theater director was slammed in Egyptian media for not stopping the performance and throwing Govrin out.

But, he said, there is hope in those who have grown up without wars fought between the two countries.

The young generation has not experienced war with Israel and is exposed to a whole new world of communication with modern media outlets. The Arab Spring also changed the national agenda in Egypt and the Palestinian issue was pushed to the side, he said.

The ambassador told the audience that a few months ago he went to the new Alexandria library, which houses the Sadat Museum. Calling that visit very moving, Govrin said when he was there he saw students learning about the peace treaty signed with Israel.

War can be avoided, but peace cannot be avoided, he said.

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March 24, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

EgyptIsrael relations – Wikipedia

Egypt Israel Populations[when?] 93,105,980 8,173,491 Area 1,002,450km (387,048 sq mi) 20,770/22,072km (8,019/8,522 sq mi) Population density 84/km (218/sq mi) 365/km (945/sq mi) Capital Cairo Jerusalem Largest city Cairo Jerusalem Government Republic Semi-Presidential System Unitary parliamentary republic First Leader Muhammad Naguib David Ben-Gurion Current Leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi Binyamin Netanyahu Official languages Arabic Hebrew, Arabic Main religions 90% Islam, 10% Christianity 75.4% Judaism, 16.9% Islam GDP (nominal) US$ 275.748 billion (US$ 3,261 per capita) US$ 272.737 billion (US$ 34,651 per capita) GDP (PPP) US$ 576.350 billion (US$ 6,817 per capita) US$ 274.504 billion (US$ 34,875 per capita) Military expenditures US$ 7.85 billion (3.1% of GDP) US$ 14.5 billion (6.9% of GDP)

Peace between Egypt and Israel has lasted for more than thirty years and Egypt has become an important strategic partner of Israel. In January 2011, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a former defense minister known for his close ties to Egyptian officials, stated that “Egypt is not only our closest friend in the region, the co-operation between us goes beyond the strategic.”[1]

Nevertheless, the relationship is sometimes described as a “cold peace”,[1][2] with many in Egypt skeptical about its effectiveness.[3][4] The Arab-Israeli conflict kept relations cool and anti-Israeli incitement is prevalent in the Egyptian media.[5][6][7]

In 2003, Egyptian Air Force UAVs entered Israeli airspace and overflew the nuclear research facilities at Nahal Sorek and Palmachim Airbase. Israel threatened to shoot the drones down.[8]

Although diplomatic relations were established in 1980, the Egyptian ambassador to Israel was recalled between 1982 and 1988, and again between 2001 and 2005 during the Second Intifada.[9]

During the final years of the Mubarak administration, the leading Egyptian official conducting contacts with Israel had been the head of Egyptian intelligence Omar Suleiman. Suleiman was ousted from power at the same time as Mubarak, and Israel was said to have very few channels of communication open with Egypt during the events of 2011.[10]

Egypt undermined the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip by opening the Rafah border to persons in May 2011.[11] The Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian parliament wished to open trade across the border with Gaza, a move said to be resisted by Egypt’s Tantawi government.[12]

After an exchange of rocket fire between Gaza and Israel in March 2012, the Egyptian parliamentary committee for Arab affairs urged the Egyptian government to recall its ambassador to Israel from Tel Aviv, and deport Israel’s ambassador in Egypt.[13] This was largely symbolic since only the ruling military council can make such decisions.[14][15]

Relations have improved significantly between Israel and Egypt after the 2013 Egyptian coup d’tat,[16] with close military cooperation over the Sinai insurgency.[17][18] Notably, Israel has permitted Egypt to increase its number of troops deployed in the Sinai peninsula beyond the terms of the peace treaty.[19] These developments, along with deteriorating Israel-Jordan relations, have led some to brand Egypt as Israel’s “closest ally” in the Arab world,[20] while others assert that relations remain relatively cold.[21] Sisi has maintained the policy of previous Egyptian presidents of pledging not to visit Israel until Israel recognizes Palestinian statehood,[22] although his Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, has visited Israel.[23]

On November 3, 2015, Egypt voted for Israel joining the UNOOSA, marking the first time in history that Egypt has ever voted in Israel’s favor at the United Nations.[24]

The Egyptian Revolution of 2011, part of the Arab Spring, led to fears in Israel about the future of the treaty.[25] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated initially that he expected any new Egyptian government to adhere to the peace treaty with Israel, as it had served both countries well.[26] After the Egyptian Army took power on 11 February 2011, it announced that Egypt would continue to abide by all its international and regional treaties.[27] Yet Israeli-Egyptian relations reached their lowest level since the 1979 EgyptIsrael Peace Treaty. The Israeli-Egyptian border became a region of conflict and instability following the rise of terrorist activity in the Sinai Peninsula and following hostility manifestation from masses of Egyptian protesters against Israel in the streets of Cairo.[citation needed]

In the 2011 attack on the Israeli Embassy in Egypt, thousands of Egyptian demonstrators broke into the Israeli embassy in Cairo on Friday, September 9. The Egyptian police stationed at the site attempted to bar entry, firing tear gas into the crowd. After demonstrators entered the first section of the building, the Israeli ambassador and the staff of the embassy were evacuated by Egyptian commandos. After the attack, Israel flew out the Israeli ambassador and about 85 other diplomats and their family members.[28] Following the attack, the Egyptian army declared a state of emergency in the country. Egyptian officials condemned the attack and said that the events were part of an external conspiracy to hurt the stability and foreign relations of Egypt.[29]

In 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood declared their support for the peace treaty,[30][31] and Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu affirmed he had no problem dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood so long as the peace treaty was respected.[32] Post Mubarak, the Egyptian authorities continued to protect an IDF memorial in the Sinai in keeping with their treaty obligations.[33] The Israelis remained positive about the treaty after MB candidate Mohammed Morsi was elected president in June 2012.[34]

In August 2012, the Egyptian Military entered the de-militarized zone without Israeli approval in violation of the peace treaty terms.[35] Egypt has also been reported to have deployed Anti-Air Missiles on the Israeli Border, a move which clearly targets Israel, as the Bedouin groups in the Sinai have no aircraft. In the 1970s, moving anti-aircraft missiles close to the Suez Canal was the first step Egypt took in the lead up to its launching of the October war.[36]

However Other news agencies had reported that the Egyptian military had actually seized anti-aircraft, anti-tank and anti-personnel weaponry which was destined to be smuggled into the Hamas held Gaza strip.[37][38] This was in addition to destroying over 100 tunnels used for smuggling.[37][38]

The 2011 southern Israel cross-border attacks took place in August; attackers from Egypt killed eight Israelis. Eight attackers were reportedly killed by Israeli security forces, and two more by Egyptian security. Five Egyptian soldiers were also killed. In response, protesters stormed the Israeli embassy. During the protests, Ahmad Al-Shahhat climbed to the roof of the Israeli Embassy and removed the Israeli flag, which was then burned by protesters.[39][40][41]

On 5 August 2012, the 2012 EgyptianIsraeli border attack occurred, when armed men ambushed an Egyptian military base in the Sinai Peninsula, killing 16 soldiers and stealing two armored cars, which they used to infiltrate into Israel. The attackers broke through the Kerem Shalom border crossing to Israel, where one of the vehicles exploded. They then engaged in a firefight with soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, during which six of the attackers were killed. No Israelis were injured.[42][43][44][45]

Israel is building a 5-meter-high fence along its border with Egypt known as the Israel-Egypt barrier. The fence will stretch along 240 kilometers, from the Kerem Shalom passage in the north to Eilat in the south. The fence was planned to block the infiltration of refugees and asylum seekers from Africa, but took on heightened urgency with the fall of Mubarak’s regime.[46]

Security cooperation was increased as a result of the 2012 EgyptianIsraeli border attack and the ensuing Operation Eagle against Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai. Egyptian Colonel Ahmed Mohammed Ali said that “Egypt is co-ordinating with the Israeli side over the presence of Egyptian armed forces in Sinai. They know this. The deployment of the armed forces on all the territory of Sinai is not a violation of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.”[47]

Egypt’s post-Mubarak rulers were instrumental in mediating between Hamas and Israel for the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange that led to the liberation of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners between October and December 2011.[48]

According to the Israel Export & International Cooperation Institute, there were 117 exporters to Egypt active in Israel in 2011 and exports of goods from Israel to Egypt grew by 60% in 2011, to $236 million.[49]

The pipeline which supplies gas from Egypt to Jordan and Israel was attacked eight times between Mubarak’s ousting on February 11 and November 25, 2011. Egypt had a 20-year deal to export natural gas to Israel. The deal is unpopular with the Egyptian public and critics say Israel was paying below market price for the gas.[50] Gas supplies to Israel were unilaterally halted by Egypt in 2012 because Israel had allegedly breached its obligations and stopped payments a few months prior.[51] Critical of the decision, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also insisted the cut-off was not to do with the peace treaty but rather “a business dispute between the Israeli company and the Egyptian company”; Egyptian Ambassador Yasser Rida also said the Egyptian government saw it as a business disagreement, not a diplomatic dispute.[52] Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the same, adding that perhaps the gas supplies were being used as campaign material for the Egyptian presidential election.[53] Minister of National Infrastructure Uzi Landau dismissed claims that the dispute was purely commercial in nature.[53]

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Former Egyptian President Mubarak acquitted of killing 239 protesters – World Israel News

Supporters of ousted former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak celebrate his acquittal, Thursday, March 2, 2017. (AP/Amr Nabil)

AP/Amr Nabil

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, originally sentenced to life in prison for murdering 239 demonstrators who protested against his rule, was declared innocent by Egypts highest court.

Egypts supreme court, the Court of Cassation, found former President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, innocent of charges for the killing of 239 protesters during an 18-day revolt that ousted him from power in early 2011.

The court has found the defendant innocent, said Judge Ahmed Abdel Qawi on Thursday.

Mubarak was originally sentenced in 2012 to life in prison for conspiracy to murder 239 demonstrators who had revolted against his rule. His conviction was overturned by an appeals court in 2013 that led to his retrial in which a Cairo court dropped charges against Mubarak and his senior officials. The prosecution filed an appeal leading to Thursdays ruling by Egypts Court of Cassation.

The attorney for the bereaved family members of the 239 slain protesters expressed outrage.

This ruling is not fair and not just, said lawyer, Osman al-Hefnway who also accused the judiciary of being politicized.

Mubarak, who had served as Vice President for his predecessor Anwar al Sadat, took power in 1981 after the latter was assassinated. He maintained the peace treaty Sadat reached with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1979. Mubarak, now 88 years old, returned to a military hospital where he has finished serving a three-year sentence for corruption charges.

By: Jonathan Benedek, World Israel News

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Israel’s Ampal Wins Damages From Egypt Over Abortive Gas Deal – Haaretz

Ruling sets a ceiling of $174 million; Ampal’s lawyers say they’re optimistic Egypt will pay up.

Ampal, the Israeli company involved in the failed plan to import natural gas from Egypt, moved a major step closer to getting damages from Cairo for shutting down the pipeline that was to deliver the gas to Israel.

Arbitrators for the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes ruled on February 21 that the Egyptian government was liable for closing the pipeline and had acted unlawfully in doing so. Although the panel has yet to set the size of the award, the ruling sets a ceiling of $174 million and Ampals lawyers said they were optimistic Egypt would pay up.

The Egyptian government has failed to pay damages imposed by international courts. Avoiding payments risks deterring potential foreign investors and credit insurance companies are unlikely to provide coverage for future deals involving the Egyptian government, said one source close to the arbitration, who asked not to be identified.

The Ampal decision is one of a clutch of lawsuits that arose in the months after Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was toppled in 2011. The pipeline carrying the gas from Egypt across the Sinai Peninsula to Israel was firebombed several times in succession, forcing it to shut down. Ultimately, Egypt rescinded the contract to export gas, citing irregularities.

Ampals role in importing Egyptian gas to Israel was its 12% stake in Eastern Mediterranean Gas, the company that owned the pipeline. When the gas imports ended, Ampal, which was led by entrepreneur Yossi Maiman, was forced into receivership, with debts of about 1 billion shekels ($270 million) to bondholders, banks and the tax authority.

The banks have already been compensated by the sale of Ampals Gadot Chemical Tankers &Terminals, which leaves the bondholders, who are owed some 800 million shekels, the most likely beneficiaries of the damages awarded.

The Ampal decision follows two others brought against Egyptian companies or the government as a result of the abortive gas agreement.

In 2015, EMG itself won $325 million in damages from the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company and the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation in arbitration conducted by the International Chamber of Commerce court of arbitration in Geneva. The same year Israel Electric Corporation, which was the ultimate recipient of the gas, won a $1.76 billion judgment.

The Egyptian companies have appealed both rulings and at the time froze all negotiations over importing Israeli gas to Egypt and a decision is expected to be handed down soon.

But Niv Sever, a partner at M. Firon & Company, the Haifa law firm that is representing the EMG shareholders, said he was confident Ampals creditors would see their money soon.

The uniqueness of the arbitration panel is that its decisions cant be appealed, he said. Since you cant appeal the verdict, the decision can be enforced and the property of Egyptians abroad, who arent entitled to any government protection, can be confiscated.

He said that constituted effective sanctions and that other countries have traditionally abided International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes rulings. He added that failure to respect the panels ruling could also lower a countrys credit rating.

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Israel & Egypt Make Peace – Jewish Virtual Library

Introduction

On March 26, 1979, sixteen months after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s dramatic visit to Jerusalem, Israel and Egypt – long standing enemies – signed a peace treaty on the lawn of the White House in Washington, DC.

This peace drive, however, did not begin with Sadat’s trip to Israel, but rather came only after more than a half-century of efforts by early Zionist and Israeli leaders to negotiate peace with the Arabs. Every government in Israel’s history had declared its desire to live in peace with all Arab states, including those who had ruthlessly attacked the Jewish state in 1948 and again in 1967 and 1973.

Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, like Sadat, was willing to go the extra mile to achieve peace. Although he faced intense opposition from within his Likud Party, Begin froze Israeli settlements in the West Bank to facilitate the progress of negotiations. Despite the Carter Administration’s tilt toward Egypt during the talks, Begin remained determined to continue the peace process. In the end, he agreed to return to Egypt the strategically critical Sinai 91 percent of the territory won by Israel during the Six-Day War in exchange for Sadat’s promise to make peace.

In recognition of his willingness to join Sadat in making compromises for peace, Begin shared the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize with the Egyptian leader.

Israel – which had repeatedly been the target of shipping blockades, military assaults and terrorist attacks staged from the Sinai – made far greater economic and strategic sacrifices in giving up the region than Egypt did in normalizing relations with Israel.

While it received additional U.S. aid for withdrawing, Israel gave up much of its strategic depth in the Sinai, returning the area to a neighbor that had repeatedly used it as a launching point for attacks. Israel also relinquished direct control of its shipping lanes to and from Eilat, 1,000 miles of roadways, homes, factories, hotels, health facilities and agricultural villages.

Because Egypt insisted that Jewish civilians leave the Sinai, more than 7,000 Israelis were uprooted from their homes and businesses, which they had spent years building in the desert. This was a physically and emotionally wrenching experience, particularly for the residents of Yamit, who had to be forcibly removed by soldiers from their homes.

Israel also lost electronic early-warning stations situated on Sinai mountaintops that provided data on military movement on the western side of the Suez Canal, as well as the areas near the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Eilat, which were vital to defending against an attack from the east. Israel was forced to relocate more than 170 military installations, airfields and army bases after it withdrew.

By turning over the Sinai to Egypt, Israel may have given up its only chance to become energy-independent. The Alma oil field in the southern Sinai, discovered and developed by Israel, was transferred to Egypt in November 1979. When Israel gave up this field, it had become the country’s largest single source of energy, supplying half the country’s energy needs. Israel, which estimated the value of untapped reserves in the Alma field at $100 billion, had projected that continued development there would make the country self-sufficient in energy by 1990.

Israel also agreed to end military rule in the West Bank and Gaza, withdraw its troops from certain parts of the territories and work toward Palestinian autonomy. The Begin government did this though no Palestinian Arab willing to recognize Israel came forward to speak on behalf of residents of the territories.

In 1988, the Jewish State relinquished Taba a resort built by Israel in what had been a barren desert area near Eilat to Egypt. Taba’s status had not been resolved by the Camp David Accords. When an international arbitration panel ruled in Cairo’s favor on September 29, 1988, Israel turned the town over to Egypt.

More than three decades have passed since Israel and Egypt signed their treaty and peace has been maintained. Still, it is regarded as a cold peace because relations between the two peoples have not significantly improved and, in the wake of the Arab Spring national uprising in 2011, have even slightly deteriorated. Trade and tourism are primarily in one direction – from Israel to Egypt. Under former president Hosni Mubarak, the government-controlled press and the intellectual elite remained hostile toward Israel and anti-Semitic articles and cartoons were widely published in newspapers and magazines. Mubarak was an active participant in the peace process, though more often than not he contributed to the hardening of Arab positions toward Israel. He has also refused to visit Israel with the lone exception being to attend the funeral of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

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JPost Editorial: Israel, Sisi and a regional peace initiative – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. (photo credit:REUTERS)

In recent days there has been talk of a regional initiative to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians. On Sunday ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that he and US President Donald Trump agreed on the need for regional partners to be involved in any possible future negotiations with the Palestinians.

The need to rebuff Iran, said Netanyahu, has provided a basis for the growing regional interests that are forming among Israel, the US and countries of the region.

Egypt under the leadership of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has emerged as one of the most important countries of the region that can play an important role in maintaining regional stability. Israel has a clear interest in taking advantage of the Sisi era to cultivate deeper ties and cooperation with Egypt.

A number of factors have come together to bring about a significant uptick in relations between Israel and Egypt, as noted by Ephraim Kam of the Institute for National Security Studies in the institutes 2016-2017 strategic survey for Israel, which was published at the end of 2016.

The Egyptian president could have resorted to the ageold tactic preferred by many Arab autocrats of deflecting criticism from themselves by attacking Israel. But Sisi has not.

Israel has also worked together with Egypt in fighting ISIS or its affiliated groups, such as jihadist Beduin, veterans of Egyptian terrorist organizations, former members of Hamas from the Gaza Strip, and foreign volunteers who entered Sinai from outside Egypt.

In January, Sisi revealed that there are about 25,000 Egyptian troops operating in the peninsula. Egypt has also deployed F-16 fighter planes, Apache helicopters and tanks in northern Sinai, with Israels agreement.

This sharp rise in the number of Egyptian forces and arms operating in Sinai is the result of cooperation between Israel and Egypt. Israel must give its permission for the introduction of troops and weapons to Sinai beyond the amount stipulated in the peace accords between the two countries that was signed at Camp David nearly four decades ago. Israel has been forthcoming on this and has also reportedly been sharing with Egyptians intelligence information on terrorist bases in Sinai.

Improved relations between Israel and Egypt are also reflected in the Sisi regimes attitude to the peace treaty with Israel. Sisi, like Mubarak before him, sees peace with Israel as a strategic asset. But, unlike Mubarak, he also seems to have a positive attitude to normalization and sees benefits not only in military ties, but also political and economic ties.

Sisi reinstated the Egyptian ambassador to Israel in early 2016 and in July, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry made a much-publicized visit to Israel, the first of its kind in nine years, to push for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Upon returning to Egypt, Shoukry visited a top-ranked Cairo high school and reportedly told students there that he refuses to define Israels military actions against Palestinians as terrorism, though his office later issued a clarification.

Egypt has a vested interest in promoting normalization between Israel and other Arab nations so as not to remain the only Arab state cooperating so closely with the Jewish state.

Sisi participated in a secret summit together with Jordans King Abdullah, then-US secretary of state John Kerry and Netanyahu during which ideas were presented on how the Gulf States, Jordan and Egypt could help promote a regional peace initiative.

Netanyahu raised the idea of a regional initiative during his press conference last week in Washington with President Donald Trump. Egypts participation in such an initiative is crucial to its success.

Sisis attempts to emphasize the positive aspects of relations with Israel have been met with skepticism inside Egypt. Large swathes of Egypts population from Nasserites and left-wing activists to trade union members and Islamists are hostile to the Jewish state. However, improved relations with the Palestinians achieved via a regional initiative together with Sisis positive leadership could bring about a sea change in Egyptian public opinion over time.

The Sisi regime presents a unique opportunity. Israel should welcome the Sisi era.

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Egypt court upholds death sentences for soccer rioters – The Times of Israel

CAIRO (AP) Egypts highest appeals court on Monday upheld the death sentences against 10 people convicted over a soccer riot that killed over 70 fans in 2012, becoming one of the worlds deadliest soccer disasters.

The verdict by the Court of Cassation is final. The defendants were charged with murder, along with other charges. The court also upheld convictions of 22 suspects who received up to 10 years imprisonment over the rioting. A total of 11 defendants were sentenced to death but one remains at large and was tried in absentia.

The rioting erupted in February 2012, at the end of a league match in the Mediterranean city of Port Said between Cairos Al-Ahly, Egypts most successful club, and home side Al-Masry.

In a socking and unexpected turn, Al-Masry fans rushed to attack Al-Ahly supporters with knives, clubs and rocks. Witnesses and survivors described victims falling from the bleachers as they tried to escape. Hundreds of others fled into an exit passage, only to be crushed against a locked gate with their rivals attacking from behind.

The riot led to the suspension of Egypts top soccer league for over a year. The league later resumed, but with matches played in empty stadiums.

In this Feb. 1, 2012 file photo, Egyptian fans clash with riot police following an Al-Ahly club soccer match against Al-Masry club at the soccer stadium in Port Said, Egypt. (AP/File photo)

The first Egyptian Premier League game in which fans were allowed back into the stadiums was played in February 2015, but that occasion was also marred by the death of 22 fans in a stampede outside the grounds. The stampede followed the use of tear gas by police to stop what authorities at the time said was an attempt by fans to storm the military-owned stadium in a suburb east of Cairo.

In the Port Said disaster, most of the victims belonged to Al-Ahlys Ultras Ahlawy, an association of hard-core fans now banned by authorities. In 2015, an Egyptian court ruled that the Ultras were a terrorist organization.

Members of the Ultras have long been at odds with the nations highly militarized police, taunting them with offensive slogans during matches and fighting them in street battles. Hard-core fans of other clubs also identify themselves by going under variations of the Ultras name. During the 2011 uprising that toppled autocratic President Hosni Mubarak, the Ultras often provided muscle at street rallies, directing protesters, leading chants and standing first in the line of fire as riot police unleashed tear gas.

Earlier this month, Egyptian police detained more than 100 Al-Ahly fans over a period of two days on suspicion they had planned to stage a protest on the anniversary of the Port Said rioting. The Ultras subsequently cancelled a planned commemoration. Five of those detained were charged with inciting protests and belonging to an outlawed group.

Public gatherings without a permit are banned under Egypts draconian anti-terrorism laws.

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February 20, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Not only Israel: US brings Egypt closer – Arutz Sheva

Trump and Sisi at the Whit House Reuters US President Donald Trump hosted Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the White House on Monday evening. Former President Obama’s relations with the Egyptians since al-Sisi’s rise to power were considered lukewarm at best, after al-Sisi overthrew democratically elected Hosni Mubarak, a strong supporter of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood organization which spawned Hamas. Obama had made overtures to the vehemently anti-Israel Muslim Brotherhood and in order to punish al-Sisi, cancelled a large sum of aid to Egypt. In response, al-Sisi turned to Rusia. Trump seems interested in opening a new page in US-Egypt relations, as has Israel. “We agree on so many things,” the American president said at the start of the meeting, adding, “I just want it to be clear that we stand 100 percent behind President al-Sisi, and he did a great job when his country suffered from difficult times.” “We support Egypt and its citizens, and our backing is worth a lot, you have important friends here in the US and I am one of them,” Trump said to al-Sisi. The presidents shook hands, and then the President of Egypt said, “This is my first visit since I took office several years ago, and I have a deep appreciation for President Trump, who is facing the evil,” alluding to Iran. “We’re promoting our relationship here and are going to be good friends for a long time,” Trump added. Trump ignored journalists’ questions about the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.

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April 3, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Egypt military says top jihadist killed in Sinai – The Times of Israel

CAIRO, Egypt Egypts military said Sunday a founder of a extremist faction in North Sinai that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group was killed in an air strike. A total of 18 extremely dangerous insurgents were killed and others wounded in raids carried out on March 18, it said. Among those killed was Salem Selmi el-Hamadeen, known as Abu Anas al-Ansari, a founder and top member of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the military said on its official Facebook page. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis is the name used by the group before it pledged allegiance to IS in November 2014. IS reported the death of the militant, active in the Sinai peninsula ever since the mid-2000s, in its weekly newsletter Al-Nabaa last Thursday. Ansari joined the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group, becoming one of its first members, and since jihad began in Sinai he was one of its building blocks, IS said. He was previously a member of Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad, a group that claimed a string of bombings at Red Sea resorts in the Sinai from 2004 to 2006 killing more than 100 people, it said. IS said Ansari had been jailed, and that he had escaped during Egypts 2011 uprising against longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak. The jihadists have killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and cracked down on his supporters, killing hundreds and jailing thousands of them. The attacks have mostly taken place in North Sinai, though they have also been carried out in other parts of the country including Cairo.

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April 2, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Egypt’s ambassador to Israel: Peace between Egypt and Israel is … – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Egyptian Ambassordor Hazem Khairat With INSS’ Amos Yadlin. (photo credit:ANNA AHRONHEIM) Forty years after president Anwar Sadat made his historic visit to Jerusalem, and 38 years since the signing of a peace treaty between the two countries, Egypts ambassador to Israel has warned against continued settlement building, saying it threatens Israels security. A viable Palestinian state cannot happen with continued settlement expansion, Ambassador Hazem Khairat said at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv on Thursday. The continued building of settlements, he said, threatens Israels security as desperation and extremism is only fueled when this happens. The absence of hope increases tensions and could lead to violence which would only benefit the extremists on both sides. A two-state solution is the only possible way forward, according to Khairat, and Cairo is ready to help the sides reach the necessary compromise, but the role of the international community, especially the US, is indispensable, he said. We look forward to continue to work with our allies, especially the United States under President Donald Trump, because once there is peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians there will be regional security. Khairat said that Sadats visit to Jerusalem not only paved the way for four decades of bilateral peace but also initiated the entire peace process to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict.” Forty years ago no one thought Egypt and Israel could reach peace, but we did, Khairat said, adding: Our peace is just like a leaf of tree that needs to be taken care of in order to grow and flourish. Also speaking at the event marking 40 years since Sadats visit, Israels Ambassador to Egypt David Govrin said, Sadats visit to Israel was the beginning of a long road of peace between the two countries. But Govrin was critical, noting that no Egyptian leader has come to Israel since that visit, except for president Hosni Mubarak, who came for the funeral for Yitzhak Rabin but made it clear that he only came for the funeral and not an official visit. Nevertheless, the ambassador admitted that there are close ties between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi that are based on trust and mutual respect. The joint effort to combat terrorism, such as that by Islamic State in Sinai, has brought about unprecedented levels of collaboration, he said, adding that it is obvious that the two countries need to work together regarding security in the Sinai Peninsula. But Govrin warned that if ties between the countries remain predominantly based on the military, over time peace between the two could erode. The relations between Israel and Egypt rely to too great of an extent on the military leg. Peace needs to stand on two legs, the military and financial for the civilians if it to forge deep and true roots. It is only with a combination of the two that will ensure long-term cooperation. Govrin said that the views of peace between the two countries are completely different in each; for Israel the objective of signing a peace treaty with Cairo was normalization (culture, financial, tourism), while for the Egyptians it was to put an end to war. While we are getting closer and closer we are still not there yet, the ambassador said, referring to a performance he attended a few months back at Egypts national theater where after the show the theater director was slammed in Egyptian media for not stopping the performance and throwing Govrin out. But, he said, there is hope in those who have grown up without wars fought between the two countries. The young generation has not experienced war with Israel and is exposed to a whole new world of communication with modern media outlets. The Arab Spring also changed the national agenda in Egypt and the Palestinian issue was pushed to the side, he said. The ambassador told the audience that a few months ago he went to the new Alexandria library, which houses the Sadat Museum. Calling that visit very moving, Govrin said when he was there he saw students learning about the peace treaty signed with Israel. War can be avoided, but peace cannot be avoided, he said. Relevant to your professional network? Please share on Linkedin

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March 24, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

EgyptIsrael relations – Wikipedia

Egypt Israel Populations[when?] 93,105,980 8,173,491 Area 1,002,450km (387,048 sq mi) 20,770/22,072km (8,019/8,522 sq mi) Population density 84/km (218/sq mi) 365/km (945/sq mi) Capital Cairo Jerusalem Largest city Cairo Jerusalem Government Republic Semi-Presidential System Unitary parliamentary republic First Leader Muhammad Naguib David Ben-Gurion Current Leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi Binyamin Netanyahu Official languages Arabic Hebrew, Arabic Main religions 90% Islam, 10% Christianity 75.4% Judaism, 16.9% Islam GDP (nominal) US$ 275.748 billion (US$ 3,261 per capita) US$ 272.737 billion (US$ 34,651 per capita) GDP (PPP) US$ 576.350 billion (US$ 6,817 per capita) US$ 274.504 billion (US$ 34,875 per capita) Military expenditures US$ 7.85 billion (3.1% of GDP) US$ 14.5 billion (6.9% of GDP) Peace between Egypt and Israel has lasted for more than thirty years and Egypt has become an important strategic partner of Israel. In January 2011, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a former defense minister known for his close ties to Egyptian officials, stated that “Egypt is not only our closest friend in the region, the co-operation between us goes beyond the strategic.”[1] Nevertheless, the relationship is sometimes described as a “cold peace”,[1][2] with many in Egypt skeptical about its effectiveness.[3][4] The Arab-Israeli conflict kept relations cool and anti-Israeli incitement is prevalent in the Egyptian media.[5][6][7] In 2003, Egyptian Air Force UAVs entered Israeli airspace and overflew the nuclear research facilities at Nahal Sorek and Palmachim Airbase. Israel threatened to shoot the drones down.[8] Although diplomatic relations were established in 1980, the Egyptian ambassador to Israel was recalled between 1982 and 1988, and again between 2001 and 2005 during the Second Intifada.[9] During the final years of the Mubarak administration, the leading Egyptian official conducting contacts with Israel had been the head of Egyptian intelligence Omar Suleiman. Suleiman was ousted from power at the same time as Mubarak, and Israel was said to have very few channels of communication open with Egypt during the events of 2011.[10] Egypt undermined the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip by opening the Rafah border to persons in May 2011.[11] The Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian parliament wished to open trade across the border with Gaza, a move said to be resisted by Egypt’s Tantawi government.[12] After an exchange of rocket fire between Gaza and Israel in March 2012, the Egyptian parliamentary committee for Arab affairs urged the Egyptian government to recall its ambassador to Israel from Tel Aviv, and deport Israel’s ambassador in Egypt.[13] This was largely symbolic since only the ruling military council can make such decisions.[14][15] Relations have improved significantly between Israel and Egypt after the 2013 Egyptian coup d’tat,[16] with close military cooperation over the Sinai insurgency.[17][18] Notably, Israel has permitted Egypt to increase its number of troops deployed in the Sinai peninsula beyond the terms of the peace treaty.[19] These developments, along with deteriorating Israel-Jordan relations, have led some to brand Egypt as Israel’s “closest ally” in the Arab world,[20] while others assert that relations remain relatively cold.[21] Sisi has maintained the policy of previous Egyptian presidents of pledging not to visit Israel until Israel recognizes Palestinian statehood,[22] although his Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, has visited Israel.[23] On November 3, 2015, Egypt voted for Israel joining the UNOOSA, marking the first time in history that Egypt has ever voted in Israel’s favor at the United Nations.[24] The Egyptian Revolution of 2011, part of the Arab Spring, led to fears in Israel about the future of the treaty.[25] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated initially that he expected any new Egyptian government to adhere to the peace treaty with Israel, as it had served both countries well.[26] After the Egyptian Army took power on 11 February 2011, it announced that Egypt would continue to abide by all its international and regional treaties.[27] Yet Israeli-Egyptian relations reached their lowest level since the 1979 EgyptIsrael Peace Treaty. The Israeli-Egyptian border became a region of conflict and instability following the rise of terrorist activity in the Sinai Peninsula and following hostility manifestation from masses of Egyptian protesters against Israel in the streets of Cairo.[citation needed] In the 2011 attack on the Israeli Embassy in Egypt, thousands of Egyptian demonstrators broke into the Israeli embassy in Cairo on Friday, September 9. The Egyptian police stationed at the site attempted to bar entry, firing tear gas into the crowd. After demonstrators entered the first section of the building, the Israeli ambassador and the staff of the embassy were evacuated by Egyptian commandos. After the attack, Israel flew out the Israeli ambassador and about 85 other diplomats and their family members.[28] Following the attack, the Egyptian army declared a state of emergency in the country. Egyptian officials condemned the attack and said that the events were part of an external conspiracy to hurt the stability and foreign relations of Egypt.[29] In 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood declared their support for the peace treaty,[30][31] and Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu affirmed he had no problem dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood so long as the peace treaty was respected.[32] Post Mubarak, the Egyptian authorities continued to protect an IDF memorial in the Sinai in keeping with their treaty obligations.[33] The Israelis remained positive about the treaty after MB candidate Mohammed Morsi was elected president in June 2012.[34] In August 2012, the Egyptian Military entered the de-militarized zone without Israeli approval in violation of the peace treaty terms.[35] Egypt has also been reported to have deployed Anti-Air Missiles on the Israeli Border, a move which clearly targets Israel, as the Bedouin groups in the Sinai have no aircraft. In the 1970s, moving anti-aircraft missiles close to the Suez Canal was the first step Egypt took in the lead up to its launching of the October war.[36] However Other news agencies had reported that the Egyptian military had actually seized anti-aircraft, anti-tank and anti-personnel weaponry which was destined to be smuggled into the Hamas held Gaza strip.[37][38] This was in addition to destroying over 100 tunnels used for smuggling.[37][38] The 2011 southern Israel cross-border attacks took place in August; attackers from Egypt killed eight Israelis. Eight attackers were reportedly killed by Israeli security forces, and two more by Egyptian security. Five Egyptian soldiers were also killed. In response, protesters stormed the Israeli embassy. During the protests, Ahmad Al-Shahhat climbed to the roof of the Israeli Embassy and removed the Israeli flag, which was then burned by protesters.[39][40][41] On 5 August 2012, the 2012 EgyptianIsraeli border attack occurred, when armed men ambushed an Egyptian military base in the Sinai Peninsula, killing 16 soldiers and stealing two armored cars, which they used to infiltrate into Israel. The attackers broke through the Kerem Shalom border crossing to Israel, where one of the vehicles exploded. They then engaged in a firefight with soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, during which six of the attackers were killed. No Israelis were injured.[42][43][44][45] Israel is building a 5-meter-high fence along its border with Egypt known as the Israel-Egypt barrier. The fence will stretch along 240 kilometers, from the Kerem Shalom passage in the north to Eilat in the south. The fence was planned to block the infiltration of refugees and asylum seekers from Africa, but took on heightened urgency with the fall of Mubarak’s regime.[46] Security cooperation was increased as a result of the 2012 EgyptianIsraeli border attack and the ensuing Operation Eagle against Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai. Egyptian Colonel Ahmed Mohammed Ali said that “Egypt is co-ordinating with the Israeli side over the presence of Egyptian armed forces in Sinai. They know this. The deployment of the armed forces on all the territory of Sinai is not a violation of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.”[47] Egypt’s post-Mubarak rulers were instrumental in mediating between Hamas and Israel for the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange that led to the liberation of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners between October and December 2011.[48] According to the Israel Export & International Cooperation Institute, there were 117 exporters to Egypt active in Israel in 2011 and exports of goods from Israel to Egypt grew by 60% in 2011, to $236 million.[49] The pipeline which supplies gas from Egypt to Jordan and Israel was attacked eight times between Mubarak’s ousting on February 11 and November 25, 2011. Egypt had a 20-year deal to export natural gas to Israel. The deal is unpopular with the Egyptian public and critics say Israel was paying below market price for the gas.[50] Gas supplies to Israel were unilaterally halted by Egypt in 2012 because Israel had allegedly breached its obligations and stopped payments a few months prior.[51] Critical of the decision, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also insisted the cut-off was not to do with the peace treaty but rather “a business dispute between the Israeli company and the Egyptian company”; Egyptian Ambassador Yasser Rida also said the Egyptian government saw it as a business disagreement, not a diplomatic dispute.[52] Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the same, adding that perhaps the gas supplies were being used as campaign material for the Egyptian presidential election.[53] Minister of National Infrastructure Uzi Landau dismissed claims that the dispute was purely commercial in nature.[53]

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March 3, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Former Egyptian President Mubarak acquitted of killing 239 protesters – World Israel News

Supporters of ousted former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak celebrate his acquittal, Thursday, March 2, 2017. (AP/Amr Nabil) AP/Amr Nabil Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, originally sentenced to life in prison for murdering 239 demonstrators who protested against his rule, was declared innocent by Egypts highest court. Egypts supreme court, the Court of Cassation, found former President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, innocent of charges for the killing of 239 protesters during an 18-day revolt that ousted him from power in early 2011. The court has found the defendant innocent, said Judge Ahmed Abdel Qawi on Thursday. Mubarak was originally sentenced in 2012 to life in prison for conspiracy to murder 239 demonstrators who had revolted against his rule. His conviction was overturned by an appeals court in 2013 that led to his retrial in which a Cairo court dropped charges against Mubarak and his senior officials. The prosecution filed an appeal leading to Thursdays ruling by Egypts Court of Cassation. The attorney for the bereaved family members of the 239 slain protesters expressed outrage. This ruling is not fair and not just, said lawyer, Osman al-Hefnway who also accused the judiciary of being politicized. Mubarak, who had served as Vice President for his predecessor Anwar al Sadat, took power in 1981 after the latter was assassinated. He maintained the peace treaty Sadat reached with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1979. Mubarak, now 88 years old, returned to a military hospital where he has finished serving a three-year sentence for corruption charges. By: Jonathan Benedek, World Israel News BeginEgyptMubarakSadat

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March 2, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Israel’s Ampal Wins Damages From Egypt Over Abortive Gas Deal – Haaretz

Ruling sets a ceiling of $174 million; Ampal’s lawyers say they’re optimistic Egypt will pay up. Ampal, the Israeli company involved in the failed plan to import natural gas from Egypt, moved a major step closer to getting damages from Cairo for shutting down the pipeline that was to deliver the gas to Israel. Arbitrators for the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes ruled on February 21 that the Egyptian government was liable for closing the pipeline and had acted unlawfully in doing so. Although the panel has yet to set the size of the award, the ruling sets a ceiling of $174 million and Ampals lawyers said they were optimistic Egypt would pay up. The Egyptian government has failed to pay damages imposed by international courts. Avoiding payments risks deterring potential foreign investors and credit insurance companies are unlikely to provide coverage for future deals involving the Egyptian government, said one source close to the arbitration, who asked not to be identified. The Ampal decision is one of a clutch of lawsuits that arose in the months after Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was toppled in 2011. The pipeline carrying the gas from Egypt across the Sinai Peninsula to Israel was firebombed several times in succession, forcing it to shut down. Ultimately, Egypt rescinded the contract to export gas, citing irregularities. Ampals role in importing Egyptian gas to Israel was its 12% stake in Eastern Mediterranean Gas, the company that owned the pipeline. When the gas imports ended, Ampal, which was led by entrepreneur Yossi Maiman, was forced into receivership, with debts of about 1 billion shekels ($270 million) to bondholders, banks and the tax authority. The banks have already been compensated by the sale of Ampals Gadot Chemical Tankers &Terminals, which leaves the bondholders, who are owed some 800 million shekels, the most likely beneficiaries of the damages awarded. The Ampal decision follows two others brought against Egyptian companies or the government as a result of the abortive gas agreement. In 2015, EMG itself won $325 million in damages from the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company and the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation in arbitration conducted by the International Chamber of Commerce court of arbitration in Geneva. The same year Israel Electric Corporation, which was the ultimate recipient of the gas, won a $1.76 billion judgment. The Egyptian companies have appealed both rulings and at the time froze all negotiations over importing Israeli gas to Egypt and a decision is expected to be handed down soon. But Niv Sever, a partner at M. Firon & Company, the Haifa law firm that is representing the EMG shareholders, said he was confident Ampals creditors would see their money soon. The uniqueness of the arbitration panel is that its decisions cant be appealed, he said. Since you cant appeal the verdict, the decision can be enforced and the property of Egyptians abroad, who arent entitled to any government protection, can be confiscated. He said that constituted effective sanctions and that other countries have traditionally abided International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes rulings. He added that failure to respect the panels ruling could also lower a countrys credit rating. Want to enjoy ‘Zen’ reading – with no ads and just the article? Subscribe today

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March 1, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Israel & Egypt Make Peace – Jewish Virtual Library

Introduction On March 26, 1979, sixteen months after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s dramatic visit to Jerusalem, Israel and Egypt – long standing enemies – signed a peace treaty on the lawn of the White House in Washington, DC. This peace drive, however, did not begin with Sadat’s trip to Israel, but rather came only after more than a half-century of efforts by early Zionist and Israeli leaders to negotiate peace with the Arabs. Every government in Israel’s history had declared its desire to live in peace with all Arab states, including those who had ruthlessly attacked the Jewish state in 1948 and again in 1967 and 1973. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, like Sadat, was willing to go the extra mile to achieve peace. Although he faced intense opposition from within his Likud Party, Begin froze Israeli settlements in the West Bank to facilitate the progress of negotiations. Despite the Carter Administration’s tilt toward Egypt during the talks, Begin remained determined to continue the peace process. In the end, he agreed to return to Egypt the strategically critical Sinai 91 percent of the territory won by Israel during the Six-Day War in exchange for Sadat’s promise to make peace. In recognition of his willingness to join Sadat in making compromises for peace, Begin shared the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize with the Egyptian leader. Israel – which had repeatedly been the target of shipping blockades, military assaults and terrorist attacks staged from the Sinai – made far greater economic and strategic sacrifices in giving up the region than Egypt did in normalizing relations with Israel. While it received additional U.S. aid for withdrawing, Israel gave up much of its strategic depth in the Sinai, returning the area to a neighbor that had repeatedly used it as a launching point for attacks. Israel also relinquished direct control of its shipping lanes to and from Eilat, 1,000 miles of roadways, homes, factories, hotels, health facilities and agricultural villages. Because Egypt insisted that Jewish civilians leave the Sinai, more than 7,000 Israelis were uprooted from their homes and businesses, which they had spent years building in the desert. This was a physically and emotionally wrenching experience, particularly for the residents of Yamit, who had to be forcibly removed by soldiers from their homes. Israel also lost electronic early-warning stations situated on Sinai mountaintops that provided data on military movement on the western side of the Suez Canal, as well as the areas near the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Eilat, which were vital to defending against an attack from the east. Israel was forced to relocate more than 170 military installations, airfields and army bases after it withdrew. By turning over the Sinai to Egypt, Israel may have given up its only chance to become energy-independent. The Alma oil field in the southern Sinai, discovered and developed by Israel, was transferred to Egypt in November 1979. When Israel gave up this field, it had become the country’s largest single source of energy, supplying half the country’s energy needs. Israel, which estimated the value of untapped reserves in the Alma field at $100 billion, had projected that continued development there would make the country self-sufficient in energy by 1990. Israel also agreed to end military rule in the West Bank and Gaza, withdraw its troops from certain parts of the territories and work toward Palestinian autonomy. The Begin government did this though no Palestinian Arab willing to recognize Israel came forward to speak on behalf of residents of the territories. In 1988, the Jewish State relinquished Taba a resort built by Israel in what had been a barren desert area near Eilat to Egypt. Taba’s status had not been resolved by the Camp David Accords. When an international arbitration panel ruled in Cairo’s favor on September 29, 1988, Israel turned the town over to Egypt. More than three decades have passed since Israel and Egypt signed their treaty and peace has been maintained. Still, it is regarded as a cold peace because relations between the two peoples have not significantly improved and, in the wake of the Arab Spring national uprising in 2011, have even slightly deteriorated. Trade and tourism are primarily in one direction – from Israel to Egypt. Under former president Hosni Mubarak, the government-controlled press and the intellectual elite remained hostile toward Israel and anti-Semitic articles and cartoons were widely published in newspapers and magazines. Mubarak was an active participant in the peace process, though more often than not he contributed to the hardening of Arab positions toward Israel. He has also refused to visit Israel with the lone exception being to attend the funeral of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

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February 28, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

JPost Editorial: Israel, Sisi and a regional peace initiative – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. (photo credit:REUTERS) In recent days there has been talk of a regional initiative to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians. On Sunday ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that he and US President Donald Trump agreed on the need for regional partners to be involved in any possible future negotiations with the Palestinians. The need to rebuff Iran, said Netanyahu, has provided a basis for the growing regional interests that are forming among Israel, the US and countries of the region. Egypt under the leadership of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has emerged as one of the most important countries of the region that can play an important role in maintaining regional stability. Israel has a clear interest in taking advantage of the Sisi era to cultivate deeper ties and cooperation with Egypt. A number of factors have come together to bring about a significant uptick in relations between Israel and Egypt, as noted by Ephraim Kam of the Institute for National Security Studies in the institutes 2016-2017 strategic survey for Israel, which was published at the end of 2016. The Egyptian president could have resorted to the ageold tactic preferred by many Arab autocrats of deflecting criticism from themselves by attacking Israel. But Sisi has not. Israel has also worked together with Egypt in fighting ISIS or its affiliated groups, such as jihadist Beduin, veterans of Egyptian terrorist organizations, former members of Hamas from the Gaza Strip, and foreign volunteers who entered Sinai from outside Egypt. In January, Sisi revealed that there are about 25,000 Egyptian troops operating in the peninsula. Egypt has also deployed F-16 fighter planes, Apache helicopters and tanks in northern Sinai, with Israels agreement. This sharp rise in the number of Egyptian forces and arms operating in Sinai is the result of cooperation between Israel and Egypt. Israel must give its permission for the introduction of troops and weapons to Sinai beyond the amount stipulated in the peace accords between the two countries that was signed at Camp David nearly four decades ago. Israel has been forthcoming on this and has also reportedly been sharing with Egyptians intelligence information on terrorist bases in Sinai. Improved relations between Israel and Egypt are also reflected in the Sisi regimes attitude to the peace treaty with Israel. Sisi, like Mubarak before him, sees peace with Israel as a strategic asset. But, unlike Mubarak, he also seems to have a positive attitude to normalization and sees benefits not only in military ties, but also political and economic ties. Sisi reinstated the Egyptian ambassador to Israel in early 2016 and in July, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry made a much-publicized visit to Israel, the first of its kind in nine years, to push for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Upon returning to Egypt, Shoukry visited a top-ranked Cairo high school and reportedly told students there that he refuses to define Israels military actions against Palestinians as terrorism, though his office later issued a clarification. Egypt has a vested interest in promoting normalization between Israel and other Arab nations so as not to remain the only Arab state cooperating so closely with the Jewish state. Sisi participated in a secret summit together with Jordans King Abdullah, then-US secretary of state John Kerry and Netanyahu during which ideas were presented on how the Gulf States, Jordan and Egypt could help promote a regional peace initiative. Netanyahu raised the idea of a regional initiative during his press conference last week in Washington with President Donald Trump. Egypts participation in such an initiative is crucial to its success. Sisis attempts to emphasize the positive aspects of relations with Israel have been met with skepticism inside Egypt. Large swathes of Egypts population from Nasserites and left-wing activists to trade union members and Islamists are hostile to the Jewish state. However, improved relations with the Palestinians achieved via a regional initiative together with Sisis positive leadership could bring about a sea change in Egyptian public opinion over time. The Sisi regime presents a unique opportunity. Israel should welcome the Sisi era. Relevant to your professional network? Please share on Linkedin Prev Article Community activism can restore faith in the age of Trump and Netanyahu Next Article

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February 21, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Egypt court upholds death sentences for soccer rioters – The Times of Israel

CAIRO (AP) Egypts highest appeals court on Monday upheld the death sentences against 10 people convicted over a soccer riot that killed over 70 fans in 2012, becoming one of the worlds deadliest soccer disasters. The verdict by the Court of Cassation is final. The defendants were charged with murder, along with other charges. The court also upheld convictions of 22 suspects who received up to 10 years imprisonment over the rioting. A total of 11 defendants were sentenced to death but one remains at large and was tried in absentia. The rioting erupted in February 2012, at the end of a league match in the Mediterranean city of Port Said between Cairos Al-Ahly, Egypts most successful club, and home side Al-Masry. In a socking and unexpected turn, Al-Masry fans rushed to attack Al-Ahly supporters with knives, clubs and rocks. Witnesses and survivors described victims falling from the bleachers as they tried to escape. Hundreds of others fled into an exit passage, only to be crushed against a locked gate with their rivals attacking from behind. The riot led to the suspension of Egypts top soccer league for over a year. The league later resumed, but with matches played in empty stadiums. In this Feb. 1, 2012 file photo, Egyptian fans clash with riot police following an Al-Ahly club soccer match against Al-Masry club at the soccer stadium in Port Said, Egypt. (AP/File photo) The first Egyptian Premier League game in which fans were allowed back into the stadiums was played in February 2015, but that occasion was also marred by the death of 22 fans in a stampede outside the grounds. The stampede followed the use of tear gas by police to stop what authorities at the time said was an attempt by fans to storm the military-owned stadium in a suburb east of Cairo. In the Port Said disaster, most of the victims belonged to Al-Ahlys Ultras Ahlawy, an association of hard-core fans now banned by authorities. In 2015, an Egyptian court ruled that the Ultras were a terrorist organization. Members of the Ultras have long been at odds with the nations highly militarized police, taunting them with offensive slogans during matches and fighting them in street battles. Hard-core fans of other clubs also identify themselves by going under variations of the Ultras name. During the 2011 uprising that toppled autocratic President Hosni Mubarak, the Ultras often provided muscle at street rallies, directing protesters, leading chants and standing first in the line of fire as riot police unleashed tear gas. Earlier this month, Egyptian police detained more than 100 Al-Ahly fans over a period of two days on suspicion they had planned to stage a protest on the anniversary of the Port Said rioting. The Ultras subsequently cancelled a planned commemoration. Five of those detained were charged with inciting protests and belonging to an outlawed group. Public gatherings without a permit are banned under Egypts draconian anti-terrorism laws.

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February 20, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed


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