The rise of the forces of jihadist Islam in Egypt places the United States and other Western powers in an uncomfortable position. The United States is the guarantor of Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. That treaty is based on the proposition of land for peace. Israel gave Egypt Sinai in 1982 and in exchange it received a peace treaty with Egypt. Now that the Islamists are poised to take power, the treaty is effectively null and void.
The question naturally arises: Will the United States act in accordance with its role as guarantor of the peace and demand that the new Egyptian government give Sinai back to Israel? Because if the Obama administration or whatever administration is in power when Egypt abrogates the treaty does not issue such a demand, and stand behind it, and if the European Union does not support the demand, the entire concept of land-for-peace will be exposed as a hoax.
Indeed the land-for-peace formula will be exposed as a twofold fiction. First, it is based on the false proposition that the peace process is a two-way street. Israel gives land, the Arabs give peace. But the inevitable death of the Egyptian- Israeli peace accord under an Egyptian jihadist regime makes clear that the land-for-peace formula is a one-way street. Israeli land giveaways are permanent. Arab commitments to peace can be revoked at any time.
Then there are the supposedly iron-clad U.S. and European security guarantees that accompany signed treaties. All the American and European promises to Israel – that they will stand by the Jewish state when it takes risks for peace – will be exposed as worthless lies. As we are already seeing today, no one will stand up for Israel’s rights. No one will insist that the Egyptians honor their bargain.
As it has become more apparent that the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties will hold an absolute majority in Egypt’s democratically elected parliament, Western governments and media outlets have insistently argued that these anti-Western, and anti-Jewish, movements have become moderate and pragmatic. Leading the charge to make the case has been the Obama administration. Its senior officials have eagerly embraced the Muslim Brotherhood. Indeed, the spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood Yusuf Qaradawi is reportedly mediating negotiations between the United States and the Taliban.
Qaradawi, an Egyptian who has been based in Qatar since 1961, when he was forced to flee Egypt due to his jihadist politics, made a triumphant return to his native land last February following the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak. Speaking to a crowd of an estimated two million people in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Qaradawi led them in a chant calling for them to invade Jerusalem.
Over the years, Qaradawi has issued numerous religious rulings permitting, indeed requiring, the massacre of Jews. In 2009, he called for the Muslim world to complete Hitler’s goal of eradicating the Jewish people.
As for the United States, in 2003, Qaradawi issued a religious ruling calling for the killing of U.S. forces in Iraq.
Both the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists are happy to cater to the propaganda needs of Western journalists and politicians and pretend that they are willing to continue to uphold the peace treaty with Israel. But even as they make conditional statements to eager Americans and Europeans, they consistently tell their own people that they seek the destruction of Israel and the abrogation of the peace deal between Egypt and Israel.
As the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs’ Jonathan D. Halevi documented last week in a report on Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist positions on the future of the peace between Egypt and Israel, while speaking to Westerners in general terms about their willingness to respect the treaty, both groups place numerous conditions on their willingness to maintain it. These conditions make clear that there is no way that they will continue to respect the peace treaty. Indeed, they will use any excuse to justify its abrogation and blame it on Israel. And they will do so at the earliest available opportunity.
It is possible, and perhaps likely, that the United States will cut off military aid to Egypt should Cairo abrogate the peace treaty. But it is impossible to imagine that the Obama administration will abide by the United States’ commitment as the guarantor of the deal and demand that Egypt return Sinai to Israel. Indeed, it is only slightly more likely that a Republican administration would fulfill the U.S. commitment as guarantor of the peace and demand the return of Sinai to Israel after Egypt’s democratically elected Islamist regime finds an excuse to abrogate the peace treaty.
It is important to keep this sorry state of affairs in mind when we assess the prospects for a land-for-peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Last week, following months of intense pressure from the United States and the European Union, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met face to face for the first time in 16 months. According to Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, who hosted the meeting, the Palestinians submitted their proposal on security and border issues to Israel.
There are several reasons that these talks are doomed to failure. The most important reason is that even if they lead to an agreement, no agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is sustainable. Assuming for a moment that P.A. Chairman Mahmoud Abbas goes against everything he has said for the past three years and signs a peace deal with Israel in which he promises Israel peace in exchange for Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, this agreement will have little impact on the Palestinians’ view of Israel. Abbas today represents no one. His term of office ended three years ago. Hamas won the last Palestinian elections in 2006.
And Hamas’s leaders – like their counterparts in the Muslim Brotherhood – make no bones about their intention to destroy Israel. Two weeks ago at a speech in Gaza, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh proclaimed, “We say today explicitly so it cannot be explained otherwise, that the armed resistance and the armed struggle are the path and the strategic choice for liberating the Palestinian land, from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river, and for the expulsion of the invaders and usurpers [Israel]… We won’t relinquish one inch of the land of Palestine.”
In his visit with his Muslim Brotherhood counterpart, Mohammad Badie, in Cairo last week Haniyeh said, “The Islamic resistance movement of Hamas by definition is a jihadist movement by the Muslim Brotherhood, Palestinian on the surface, Islamic at its core, and its goal is liberation.”
The time has come for Israel to admit the truth. Land-for-peace is a confidence game and we are the mark.
(Caroline B. Glick is a columnist for the Jerusalem Post. firstname.lastname@example.org)