Trouble in Cairo: Is Egypt turning on Israel?

Tensions rise between the Middle Eastern neighbors after protesters break into Israel's embassy in Cairo

A soldier threatens Egyptians who try to get close to the Israeli embassy in Cairo: Demonstrators tore down a concrete wall and stormed the government building over the weekend.
(Image credit: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Egypt put its security forces on high alert this weekend after rioters broke away from a protest against the government and stormed Israel's embassy. Israel pulled its ambassador and most of its diplomatic staff out of Cairo. Both countries say they want to preserve their longstanding diplomatic ties, but their relationship has been degenerating since February, when demonstrators toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak. Can Israel and Egypt restore their friendship?

Things will only get worse: The Muslim Brotherhood is now playing a leading role on the Arab street and in the Egyptian government, says Rachel Ehrenfeld at Big Peace. That "can no longer be denied." The Egyptian Islamists saw their country's revolution as "a necessary first step toward the 'liberation' of all of Palestine," and the new government has made it clear it won't stand in the way.

"Anarchy in Egypt: Whose embassy is next?"

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Neither side can afford a split: There has been rampant anti-Israel sentiment in Egypt since Mubarak fell, says Li Laifang at China's Xinhua, and it was only magnified in August, when Israel forces chasing militants at the border killed five Egyptian soldiers. But Israel needs stability in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, and Egypt benefits from its status "as a moderate and key regional player." Patching up the relationship is "crucial" for both countries.

"Keeping bilateral ties benefits Egypt, Israel albeit challenges"

Israel must prove it wants peace: It's time for Israel to acknowledge that "the rules of the game with Egypt have changed," says Israel's Haaretz in an editorial. The old days of "winks and tacit agreements" with Mubarak are over. Egypt's government is accountable to its people, and they won't be satisfied until Israel proposes "real policies and solutions to the conflict with the Palestinians." If Israel wants "the strategic alliance with Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and other countries to survive," it "must drop the empty slogans" and get to work.

"Time for Israel to put out the fire with Egypt"

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