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Expecting more from Egypt (JERUSALEM POST EDITORIAL) 02/03/05)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1107314591934&p=1006953079865 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Egypt´s offer to host an Israeli-Palestinian summit next week can be seen in the context of a general warming of relations with our southern neighbor and of an Egyptian bid to regain a leadership role in the peace process.

Any progress towards good-neighborliness is clearly desirable. We prefer an Egypt which at least promises to prevent gunrunning through tunnels from its territory to the Gaza Strip. It would obviously be better if it actually stopped the arms-smuggling, but at least Egypt is on record as seeking to ensure law and order in Gaza rather than cheering terror there.

Since Egypt appears, of late, to be espousing policies geared to promoting peace between Israel and the PA under Mahmoud Abbas, from our vantage point it is going the right way.

All this doesn´t mean that it needn´t take far more convincing strides.

Indeed, much of the Israeli public – even in moderate and dovish circles – wonders why Egypt hasn´t made greater efforts to persuade us that it has altered its stance and to demonstrate the goodwill thus far missing from its official rhetoric.

The coming Sharm e-Sheikh summit, then, can be construed as a positive development. However, we have seen previous summits in the very same venue which failed to live up to the hype. It is worth recalling that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak consistently refrains from visiting Israel or from hosting an Israeli premier anywhere in Egypt except for Sinai. We would feel far more upbeat had he not been so stinting in manifestations of elementary congeniality and simply done more to build up our collective confidence in his intentions.

The simplest and quickest step he can take is to return his ambassador to Tel Aviv. Word is that this is in the offing, but why put it off? Why not correct a gross violation of Egypt´s peace-treaty undertakings with Israel right now? And why wait three months, as reportedly promised, to send 750 Egyptian border police to stop smuggling into Gaza?

If Egypt conceives of itself as a mediator out to facilitate the formulation of new agreements, then the least we can expect is that it adhere to its own clearly stipulated commitments in the carefully drafted treaty it signed, for which Israel relinquished huge stretches of territory – to say nothing of self-sufficiency in oil supplies.

Nevertheless, Egypt´s knee-jerk response to the terror onslaught upon Israel in 2000 was to withdraw its ambassador and not replace him, thereby effectively downgrading the status of its diplomatic representation here.

The symbolic implication of this cannot be overstated. It casts dark shadows on the very readiness of a former enemy to turn over a new leaf, let old animosities wither and nurture the tender sapling of harmonious coexistence.

Instead, Egypt is showing its people that nothing is normal in its relations with Israel and that Israel remains a pariah in the region, undeserving of legitimacy.

One need only glance at Egypt´s state-controlled press to realize how demonized Israel remains. The same Sharon with whom Mubarak plans to powwow next week is depicted in Egyptian caricatures attired in Nazi uniform and devouring live Palestinian tots with grotesque delight. This isn´t political satire but noxious Sturmer-like anti-Semitism.

Egypt is, in fact, one of the world´s chief disseminators of anti- Jewish hate.

It´s the source of hit TV fare unabashedly based on spurious anti- Semitic "classics" like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The original, moreover, remains constantly on its best-seller lists, along with Hitler´s Mein Kampf. Both are frequently reprinted to satisfy demand.

The mass-circulation government daily Al-Akhbar routinely refers to Israel as "the Nazi aggressor," and Mubarak´s National-Democratic Party´s newspaper habitually denies the Holocaust and disputes the existence of gas chambers.

All Mubarak needs to do is issue a single directive. He hasn´t done so.

Don´t get us wrong, we appreciate the warming in relations. But if Egypt wants Israelis to consider it a credible mediator, let alone a leader toward peace, summits, hints and promises are not enough. (© 1995-2005, The Jerusalem Post 02/03/05)

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