While Bill English prevaricates and sits on his hands over the deterioration in our relationship with Israel, it appears Egypt is improving their relationship.
The vast six-lane boulevard from Cairo International Airport into the city center is lined with buildings and offices connected to Egypt’s powerful military. Hotels cater to air force officers, and buildings commemorate, with glorious murals, the country’s fighting history. One shows Egyptian soldiers crossing the Suez Canal in 1973 to strike at Israeli forces in Sinai.
Many Egyptians see the 1973 war as a victory. From that war came the peace treaty signed in Washington in 1979 between president Anwar Sadat and prime minister Menachem Begin. Insiders say that Israel and Egypt are experiencing the closest cooperation in decades, based on shared interests.
On the surface there is nothing about the Egyptian-Israeli cold peace that appears warm. Israel was not represented at the Cairo International Book Fair that wrapped up on Friday. Official meetings with Israelis are controversial – a parliamentarian named Tawfik Okasha was heavily reprimanded for sitting down with the Israeli ambassador last year.
Israel reopened its embassy, albeit in smaller quarters, in September 2015, four years after an angry mob stormed it during the chaos of the Arab Spring. “We’re working together for the sake of stability and prosperity in the Middle East. Egypt will always be the largest and most important state in our region,” then-Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold said. However, reports noted that the embassy building itself would not be re-opened and the ambassador’s residence would be used until a suitable location could be found.