Israel prepares to face ‘aggressive neighbour’

With Israel worried over unrest in Egypt, army chief of staff, Benny Gantz, has presented ministers with scenarios including one that the peace treaty between the two countries will be abrogated by Cairo.

Mr Gantz and army intelligence chief Aviv Kochavi have briefed ministers on the possibility the treaty signed by Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin in 1979 will be scrapped by Egypt, although they stressed this was an “extreme possibility”. In remarks to The Scotsman, a government official, who asked for anonymity, said Israel is counting on the international community to pressure Egypt to adhere to its commitments.

“We see forces in Egypt that are very much against the peace,” the official said in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood. “We had wars with Egypt in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973,” the official added. “Thousands were killed. We do not want to go back to a situation of conflict.”

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Eli Shaked, former Israeli ambassador to Cairo, told The Scotsman that “Egypt cutting relations with us a year from now is a possibility that shouldn’t be excluded”.

He added that Egypt is unlikely to seek military confrontation with Israel as it needs to focus on rebuiding its economy and solving acute domestic problems. “The Muslim Brotherhood will confront Israel in a political way rather than militarily. They might consider it worthwhile to pay the price of losing American financial and military support in order to fulfill their ambitions.”