Egypt has been fighting a difficult war against the Islamic State (ISIS) in the Sinai since their long-time president, Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011. An anonymous former Israeli official told the Bloomberg news agency that Israeli drones have been used many times against ISIS-affiliated terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula.
“The level of cooperation is something we’ve never experienced before,” Major-General Yair Golan, the Israeli Deputy Chief of General Staff, said to Bloomberg. “It’s not about love, it’s not about common values. I wouldn’t describe it as the relationship we have with the United States of America, but I think it’s a good starting point.”
This war, along with other mutual security concerns such as Gaza terror tunnels, have led to improved relations with the Jewish state. In addition to the drones, Israel is also reportedly sharing intelligence sources with Egypt. Further, Israel waived restrictions established in the Camp David Accords in 1978, allowing Egypt to deploy troops and heavy weapons beyond what is permitted in order to fight their common enemy in the Sinai.
The Bloomberg article also noted that the growing affinity between the former arch enemies was due to domestic interests as well. Israel has become a major broker in the global power market with the opening of the massive Leviathan and Tamar natural gas fields in the Mediterranean.
This surprising development may have come just in time to help thwart global efforts to force Israel into a possibly disastrous agreement with the Palestinians.
Egypt’s ties with Israel have led them to become involved in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Two weeks ago, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. On Sunday, he arrived in Jerusalem, marking the first time an Egyptian FM has visited Israel since 2007.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Shoukry expressed his desire to bring about an Egyptian brokered peace agreement.
“The goal we aim to achieve through negotiations between the two parties is one that is based on justice, legitimate rights and mutual willingness to coexist peacefully in two neighboring independent states in peace and security,” Shoukry said to reporters.
“Egypt remains ready to assist in achieving this goal,” he said, adding that “such a momentous achievement will have a far-reaching, dramatic and positive impact on the overall conditions in the Middle East. The current state of affairs is, unfortunately, neither stable nor sustainable.”
Israel is presently coping with international pressure to jumpstart the peace process at Israel’s expense. Last January, former French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius introduced an initiative that called for an international peace conference and the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations by the end of the year. He proposed that if no agreement was reached between Israel and the PA, France will formally recognize a Palestinian state. In June, the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council adopted an amended version of the initiative, which did not include the ultimatum.
Israel objects to the initiative. Prime Minister Netanyahu reacted to the proposal, saying, “There is one way to advance peace—direct negotiations without preconditions between the sides. This is the true way and I think that anyone who tries to deviate from it will not advance successful negotiations.”