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‘Peace’ on the rocks: ‘There is no dialogue’ between Israel and Egypt

Special to WorldTribune.com

TEL AVIV — Israel has become resigned to a freeze in military and
political relations with Egypt.

Officials acknowledged that Egypt’s first Islamist president has ordered
a suspension of all high-level contacts with Israel. They said President
Mohammed Morsi has rejected repeated Israeli appeals for a dialogue to
restore stability to their mutual border along the Sinai Peninsula.

Israel Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad.

“There is no dialogue between our political leadership and theirs,” Amos Gilad, a senior Defense Ministry official, said. “And, in my opinion, there will not be either.”

Gilad, regarded as the Defense Ministry’s leading interlocutor with
Egypt, became the highest level official to acknowledge the freeze with Cairo. For years, Gilad had been the leading proponent of Israeli gestures, including the introduction of thousands of Egyptian soldiers in Sinai, to encourage Cairo to maintain relations with the Jewish state.

In an appearance on Nov. 2, Gilad reiterated that Israel must pay “any cost” to preserve its 1979 peace treaty with Egypt. Over the last few weeks,
Egyptian officials have expressed Cairo’s intention to revise or suspend
major elements of the peace treaty, including the demilitarization of Sinai
as well as economic cooperation with Israel.

“This [peace] is 1,000 times more valuable than the prospect that Israel
will mobilize its military force [along Sinai],” Gilad said.

Officials said Morsi blocked his defense minister from responding to
repeated initiatives by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. They said
Egyptian Defense Minister Abdul Fatah Sisi refused to take phone calls by
Barak to discuss the Al Qaida-inspired threat from Sinai.

“Out of the desire for democracy, an appalling dictatorship has
emerged [in Egypt],” Gilad said.

Hours later, Barak issued a statement meant to clarify Gilad’s remarks.
The defense minister, however, did not dispute the
assertions of his senior aide.

“His remarks focused on the strategic importance of the Israel-Egypt
peace treaty and the importance of normal relations with Egypt,” Barak said.

“Nevertheless, Maj. Gen. Gilad expressed concerns over a possible upheaval
in the Middle East. The defense establishment and Maj. Gen. Gilad have no
intention of interfering in Egypt’s internal affairs.”

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