The article was published in the press and appears here with the author's kind permission
Perhaps we should be grateful to Egypt for letting some 80 Hamas members and activists from other terrorist groups, including some trained in Iran, to cross the border (on Egyptian buses) into Gaza. Grateful for what?. For the fact that Cairo has given us a stark reminder of how things really are in the Middle East and what Israel's attitude to the terms "peace" and "agreements" with the Arab world should be.
One thing that this should teach us straight away concerns the idea that the fears of the "moderate" Arab states'Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc.regarding Islamic fundamentalism makes them a natural ally of Israel. This is simply not true; although they are very worried about fundamentalism in their own back yard, they are not bothered when Islamic fundamentalists are in somebody else's country, especially if it is Israel. In other words, these countries only oppose Islamic fundamentalism (and isn't Saudi Wahabism fundamentalist?) if it threatens their own security and political rule. And what lies behind the latest deal between Egypt and Hamas? When Egypt wanted Hamas to hand over a wanted al-Qaeda operative it had no qualms about helping the Islamicist Palestinians wanted by Israel to return to the Gaza Strip.
This is no isolated incident and it was preceded by massive arms transfers from Egypt to Gaza with the purpose of arming and equipping the Hamas army that is taking shape there. Even without active cooperation between the Egyptian authorities and Hamas they are unquestionably treat these activities with calculated indifference.
But no less than these, the dirty business on the Gaza-Egypt border brings to mind the international summit at Annapolis and the offers Israel might be pushed to make. The government's "original sin" was deciding to be part of this circus that is about to take place in Annapolis. "We had no choice" they will say, "we couldn't ignore Secretary of State Rice's demands". Maybe. But even if that is so, Israeli diplomacy could have at least insisted as it did before the Madrid Summit, on being given a document of commitment or guarantees that would spare Jerusalem unpleasant surprises.
Foreign Ministry Livni was right on the button in her speech to the United Nations Assembly when she said that peace is made through direct bilateral negotiationsbut how is that consistent with attending a forum in which Israel will find itself more or less isolated against all the members of the Arab League, the United Nations, the European Union, Russia
and America, one of whose motives for convening the summit is to lobby Saudi Arabia and the other Arab states to help save it from the Iraqi bog. Perhaps due to naiveté or inexperience the Secretary of Defense and her colleagues believed at first at least that involving the Arab states in the summit would not only link them in a practical way to the peace process but also help to moderate Palestinian demands.
Not surprisingly what has happened is the exact opposite: in their public statements and demands of Israel, the Arab leaders in fact have poured more oil on the fire of Palestinian extremism (which is why the American senate called on the State Department to pressure the Arab countries and chiefly the Saudis to assist in the peace effortinstead of sabotaging it).
And what about the Egypt-Hamas terrorist deal and the Annapolis summit? The first conclusion for anyone who does not wishes to appear blind is clear: apparently Israel and the rest of the world cannot trust the Arab states, including those that have signed or will in sign peace agreements with Israel, to fully and faithfully honor their commitmentswith the exception perhaps of Jordan, which has a clear interest in enduring peace with Israel.
Another lesson: if anyone believes that some international force or another will guarantee our security they should ask themselves what happened to the European "monitors" supposedly monitoring the border crossings between Egypt and Gaza, which melted away as soon as Hamas took control of Gaza (the same way the UN soldiers disappeared from Sinai in 1967). Conclusion: only through its own strength and having defendable borders will Israel ensure a reasonable degree of securityand that of course applies to the Palestinian state that policy makers in Washington and Jerusalem talk about almost yearningly.
Apparently, the prime minister believes he can control the situation regardless of what is said and agreed at Annapolis. This is a dangerous delusion. As major general (res.) Giora Eyland commented in his article in Yediot Ahronot: "Experience shows that negotiations can lead to worse situations", and concluded, "Israel has clearly given up the principle of refusing to discuss the permanent settlement before it sees a solution to the security problems
what have we received in exchange exactly?"