Israel to Clinton: Tell us what Egypt is thinking
US Secretary of State Clinton is in Israel after meeting with new Egyptian leader Mohamed Morsi. Israel is hoping Clinton will shed some light on how to repair frayed Israel-Egypt ties.
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The cross-border attacks are considered merely a tactical thorn for the time being, rather than a real threat to the peace treaty. But they do put pressure on both countries' security establishments to bring an end to such attacks. There's a risk that attacks, like a shooting attack in May which killed one Israeli, could sour the ties and create a real crisis for the peace treaty.Skip to next paragraph
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Although Israel fears a bolstered Egyptian presence in Sinai if the security annex is reopened, some see a negotiated reinforcement of the Egyptian military in the desert peninsula as not only an opportunity to cement ties, but to achieve a symbolic recognition of the peace from the Muslim Brotherhood.
"Morsi is calling for an updated annex,'' says Ofer Zalzburg, an senior analyst at the International Crisis Group. "This suggests that he is willing to agree to an updated annex and to sign it, and were this to happen, it's overlooked that this will be a significant Islamist endorsement to the legitimacy to the annex and the peace treaty.''
The meat of Clinton's meetings are expected later in the day, in talks with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In the last three years, Netanyahu and President Obama have openly clashed on how to handle the Palestinians and Iran's nuclear program.
Clinton is just one of three top administration officials to visit Israel this month. National Security Advisor Tom Danilon held a visit last week (which was not made public until after it happened) and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to visit soon. The focus for those talks is believed to be Iran's nuclear program and the rising chaos in Syria.
The US has been trying to calm Israeli fears that time is dwindling before Iran builds a nuclear weapon and that it will need to launch a preemptive strike to halt Tehran's weapon development. The impasse in talks between the international community and Iran has raised speculation that Israel is more seriously considering a preemptive strike, which the US hopes to head off.
The two sides also are discussing the potential for the fighting in Syria to spill over the Lebanese and Israeli borders. Israel and the US are particularly concerned that Syria's chemical weapon and missile stockpiles will fall into the hands of Hezbollah. US officials recently warned that some of those weapons had been moved.
Before heading off to her meetings with Mr. Barak and Mr. Netanyahu, Ms. Clinton spoke to reporters of the challenge facing the allies: "It is a time of uncertainty but also of opportunity," she said. "It is at moments like these that friends like us have to think together and act together. We are called to be smart creative and courageous."