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Israel Fears Islamic Winter After Egypt Vote

Published: 02/07/2012 08:18:50 PM GMT
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OCCUPIED JERUSALEM - The election of Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi as Egypt's new president has sparked deep worries in Israel, amid Israeli worries of an “Islamic winter” in the Middle East. It's s**t for Israel, Am (more)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM - The election of Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi as Egypt's new president has sparked deep worries in Israel, amid Israeli worries of an “Islamic winter” in the Middle East.

"It's s**t for Israel," Ami, a 47-year-old businessman in Tel Aviv, told Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA) on Monday, June 25.

"We have Hamas in Gaza. Hizbullah in the north. How long before Jordan collapses?

"Israel is surrounded by fanatics who want to push us back into the sea."

Morsi was declared Egypt's new president on Sunday after winning 51.2% of votes in last week's election against 48.2% for his rival former premier Ahmed Shafiq.

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The victory has sent thousands into the streets across Egypt in celebration of the new president.

Similar celebrations were staged in Israel-besieged Gaza Strip, where Gazans cheered and fired volleys of celebratory gunfire in the streets of the coastal enclave.

Morsi's election, however, was greeted with caution in Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel "respects" the election results, calling the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt a "joint interest" and the cornerstone of regional stability.

"Israel hopes to continue cooperation with the Egyptian government on the basis of the peace treaty," Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

But government officials speaking on condition of anonymity to local media were less reticent.

One official lamented that warning that the "Arab Spring" would become an "Islamic Winter" had materialized.

Israel and Egypt signed a US-sponsored peace treaty in 1979, under which Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula, which was occupied in the 1967 war.

In his first televised address on Sunday, Morsi repeated his respect for international treaties - a gesture to Israel, which has fretted about its 1979 peace deal, and to Egypt's army, whose big US subsidy depends on it.

Islamic Winter

Worries about the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to the helm of power in Egypt were evident in the Israeli media.

"Darkness in Egypt," read the headline of the top-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper.

Inside the paper, Smadar Peri wrote that Morsi's victory was a dangerous development for Israel.

"From our standpoint, when the presidential palace in Cairo is painted for the first time in Islamic colors, this is a black and dark day," she wrote.

Analyst Alex Fishman also wrote in the same paper that Morsi's victory meant "everything is open, and the future is unclear."

"Israel should be prepared for every eventuality," he wrote, evoking the possibility of "an Islamist intelligence minister, a re-examination of the peace accords, a collapse of the economic agreements and lack of security coordination."

"The new Middle East. The fear has become reality, the Muslim Brotherhood are in power in Egypt," commented the Maariv daily.

"The peace treaty has been put in doubt," the paper wrote, adding that "there is very serious concern in the political and military class in Israel because Egypt is the largest of its neighbors and has decisive influence on the Arab world."

Yaakov Katz, writing in the English-language Jerusalem Post, took a more pragmatic view, offering the "good news (that) in the short term nothing is expected to change."

"Egypt's president-elect will have far greater challenges to deal with than to pick a fight with the Jewish state," Katz wrote, pointing to the Egypt's dire economic predicament in the post-uprising period.

Since Mubarak's downfall following a popular revolt last year, Israel has been worried with the potential scenarios that could take place in Egypt.The change of power in Egypt might also alter Israel's entire strategic outlook, given the fact that thanks to the peace treaty, the Israeli military kept minimal presence on its southern border, freeing it up for actions to the east and north.

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