Middle East | News

Egypt votes, Israel frets

Tel Aviv (N.Y. Jewish Week) — Israelis are watching elections in Egypt with the same ambivalence they have viewed the Arab Spring: historic images of Egyptians casting ballots for the first time were accompanied by troubling commentary by officials and analysts that the election is likely to empower an Islamist leadership that is more hostile to the Jewish state.

The strong showing by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic parties is expected to further complicate the 32-year-old peace between the neighbors, while boosting political Islam in neighboring Jordan and the Palestinian territories.

As expected, the Muslim Brotherhood emerged from the first round of parliamentary elections last week as the strongest party, with nearly 40 percent of the vote. More surprising was the powerful showing by an ultra-conservative Salafist party, which captured another quarter of the vote — giving Islamists a hefty majority in the first round of voting.

Last month’s street demonstrations in Cairo calling for the resignation of Field Marshall Tantawi seemed to suggest that the military leadership — which has continued close ties with Israel — is in retreat.

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