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News Analysis: Egyptian turmoil may affect ties with Israel

01-31-2011 13:40 BJT

JERUSALEM, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- With street protests in Egypt entering the sixth day, there is increasing concern in Israel that President Hosni Mubarak's tenure may be coming to an end, and that his successor may cancel the peace treaty the two nations signed in 1979.

However, analysts that Xinhua spoke to said that it was too early to tell what will happen, and that there are no indicators that the peace between Egypt and Israel -- often described as a cold peace -- will come to an end.

When then Egyptian president Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, he became the first Arab leader to do so, but paid for his decision with his own life -- he was assassinated during a military parade by fundamentalists who opposed the deal, which has remained very unpopular among Egyptians.

The political ties between Egypt and Israel, however, have remained strong. Most of their modern-day cooperation focuses on issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Hamas rule in Gaza.

TOO EARLY TO TELL

Dr. Mark Heller, a principal research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said that it was still too early to make any prediction of what will happen in Egypt. He said he doesn't know if Mubarak or the current regime would step down.

"There are at least four different scenarios that one should be thinking about," Heller noted.

"One is that the regime is succeeded by some kind of military- dominated government; the second is some Islamist-dominated government; the third is that it's succeeded by an embryonic functioning democracy, and the fourth is that it is not succeeded by anything -- just chaos and continued instability," Heller said.

"Every one of those possibilities has different potential implications," he added.

Heller said that Egypt could be facing a long period of instability if Mubarak was unsuccessful in regaining control.

One of the main opposition groups in Egypt is the Muslim Brotherhood, which was banned by Mubarak from running in elections. Some pundits in Israel fear that if they were to take over, this would portend a stark change in the region.

But Heller did not foresee an immediate takeover by the Brotherhood, as "they would need to have time for instability and lack of order to increase people's demand for discipline and security, as well as to eliminate all their rivals."

Heller said that history has shown that the fall of a regime isn't always followed by a clear successor.


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