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Egypt–Israel relations


Egypt–Israel relations

Egypt-Israel relations
Map indicating locations of Egypt and Israel



Egypt–Israel relations are foreign relations between Egypt and Israel. The state of war between both countries which dated back to the 1948 Arab–Israeli War culminated in the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and was followed by the 1979 Egyptian–Israeli Peace Treaty a year after the Camp David Accords, mediated by US president Jimmy Carter. Full diplomatic relations were established on February 26, 1980. Egypt has an embassy in Tel Aviv and a consulate in Eilat. Israel has an embassy in Cairo and a consulate in [Alexandria].

Their shared border has two official crossings, one at Taba and one at Nitzana. The crossing at Nitzana is for commercial traffic only.


  • Country comparison 1
  • History 2
  • Economic ties 3
  • Future of peace treaty 4
  • Border incidents 5
  • Security cooperation 6
  • Diplomatic mediation 7
  • Gas pipeline 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Country comparison

Egypt Israel
Populations 84,550,000 8,051,200
Area 1,002,450 km² (387,048 sq mi) 20,770/22,072 km² (8,019/8,522 sq mi)
Population density 84/km² (218/sq mi) 365/km² (945/sq mi)
Capital Cairo Jerusalem (disputed)
Largest city Cairo Jerusalem (disputed)
Government Republic Semi-Presidential System Unitary parliamentary republic
First Leader King Mina David Ben-Gurion
Current Leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi Binyamin Netanyahu
Official languages Arabic Hebrew, Arabic
Main religions 90% Islam, 10% Christianity 75.4% Judaism, 16.9% Islam
GDP (nominal) $275.748 billion ($3,261 per capita) $272.737 billion ($34,651 per capita)
GDP (PPP) $576.350 billion ($6,817 per capita) $274.504 billion ($34,875 per capita)
Military expenditures $7.85 billion (3.1% of GDP) $14.5 billion (6.9% of GDP)


Jimmy Carter, Moshe Dayan and Hassan Ali at Blair House

Peace between Egypt and Israel has lasted for more than thirty years and Egypt has become an important strategic partner of Israel. In January 2011, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a former defence minister known for his close ties to Egyptian officials, stated that "Egypt is not only our closest friend in the region, the co-operation between us goes beyond the strategic."[1]

Nevertheless, the relationship is sometimes described as a "cold peace",[1][2] with many in Egypt skeptical about its effectiveness.[3][4] The Arab-Israeli conflict kept relations cool and anti-Israeli incitement is prevalent in the Egyptian media.[5][6][7]

Israel-Egypt Armistice Commission building

In 2003, Egyptian Air Force UAVs entered Israeli airspace and overflew the nuclear research facilities at Nahal Sorek and Palmachim Airbase. Israel threatened to shoot the drones down.[8]

Although diplomatic relations were established in 1980, the Egyptian ambassador to Israel was recalled between 1982 and 1988, and again between 2001 and 2005 during the Second Intifada.[9]

During the final years of the Mubarak administration, the leading Egyptian official conducting contacts with Israel had been the head of Egyptian intelligence Omar Suleiman. Suleiman was ousted from power at the same time as Mubarak, and Israel was said to have very few channels of communication open with Egypt during the events of 2011.[10]

Egypt undermined the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip by opening the Rafah border to persons in May 2011.[11] The Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian parliament wished to open trade across the border with Gaza, a move said to be resisted by Egypt's Tantawi government.[12]

After an exchange of rocket fire between Gaza and Israel in March 2012, the Egyptian parliamentary committee for Arab affairs urged the Egyptian government to recall its ambassador to Israel from Tel Aviv, and deport Israel's ambassador in Egypt.[13] This was largely symbolic since only the ruling military council can make such decisions.[14][15]

Economic ties

According to the Israel Export & International Cooperation Institute, there were 117 exporters to Egypt active in Israel in 2011 and exports of goods from Israel to Egypt grew by 60% in 2011, to $236 million.[16]

Future of peace treaty

Egyptian army memorial in Israel

The Egyptian Revolution of 2011, part of the Arab Spring, led to fears in Israel about the future of the treaty.[17] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated initially that he expected any new Egyptian government to adhere to the peace treaty with Israel, as it had served both countries well.[18] After the Egyptian Army took power on 11 February 2011, it announced that Egypt would continue to abide by all its international and regional treaties.[19] Yet Israeli-Egyptian relations reached their lowest level since the 1979 Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty. The Israeli-Egyptian border became a region of conflict and instability following the rise of terrorist activity in the Sinai Peninsula and following hostility manifestation from masses of Egyptian protesters against Israel in the streets of Cairo.

In the 2011 attack on the Israeli Embassy in Egypt, thousands of Egyptian demonstrators broke into the Israeli embassy in Cairo on Friday, September 9. The Egyptian police stationed at the site attempted to bar entry, firing tear gas into the crowd. After demonstrators entered the first section of the building, the Israeli ambassador and the staff of the embassy were evacuated by Egyptian commandos. After the attack, Israel flew out the Israeli ambassador and about 85 other diplomats and their family members.[20] Following the attack, the Egyptian army declared a state of emergency in the country. Egyptian officials condemned the attack and said that the events were part of an external conspiracy to hurt the stability and foreign relations of Egypt.[21]

In 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood declared their support for the peace treaty,[22][23] and Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu affirmed he had no problem dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood so long as the peace treaty was respected.[24] Post Mubarak, the Egyptian authorities continued to protect an IDF memorial in the Sinai in keeping with their treaty obligations.[25] The Israelis remained positive about the treaty after MB candidate Mohammed Morsi was elected president in June 2012.[26]

In August 2012, the Egyptian Military entered the de-militarized zone without Israeli approval in violation of the peace treaty terms.[27] Egypt has also been reported to have deployed Anti-Air Missiles on the Israeli Border, a move which clearly targets Israel, as the Bedouin groups in the Sinai have no aircraft. In the 1970s, moving anti-aircraft missiles close to the Suez Canal was the first step Egypt took in the lead up to its launching of the October war.[28]

However Other news agencies had reported that the Egyptian military had actually seized anti-aircraft, anti-tank and anti-personnel weaponry which was destined to be smuggled into the Hamas held Gaza strip.[29][30] This was in addition to destroying over 100 tunnels used for smuggling.[31][32]

Border incidents

Egypt-Israeli border north of Eilat

The 2011 southern Israel cross-border attacks took place in August; attackers from Egypt killed eight Israelis; eight attackers were reportedly killed by Israeli security forces, and two more by Egyptian security. Five Egyptian soldiers were also killed. A few days later, an Egyptian climbed to the roof of the Israeli Embassy and removed the Israeli flag, which was burned by protesters.[33][34][35]

On 5 August 2012, the 2012 Egyptian–Israeli border attack occurred, when armed men ambushed an Egyptian military base in the Sinai Peninsula, killing 16 soldiers and stealing two armored cars, which they used to infiltrate into Israel. The attackers broke through the Kerem Shalom border crossing to Israel, where one of the vehicles exploded. They then engaged in a firefight with soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, during which six of the attackers were killed. No Israelis were injured.[36][37][38][39]

Israel is building a 5-meter-high fence along its border with Egypt known as the Israel-Egypt barrier. The fence will stretch along 240 kilometers, from the Kerem Shalom passage in the north to Eilat in the south. The fence was planned to block the infiltration of refugees and asylum seekers from Africa, but took on heightened urgency with the fall of Mubarak's regime.[40]

Security cooperation

Security cooperation was increased as a result of the 2012 Egyptian–Israeli border attack and the ensuing Operation Eagle against Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai. Egyptian Colonel Ahmed Mohammed Ali said that "Egypt is co-ordinating with the Israeli side over the presence of Egyptian armed forces in Sinai. They know this. The deployment of the armed forces on all the territory of Sinai is not a violation of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel."[41]

Diplomatic mediation

Egypt's post-Mubarak rulers were instrumental in mediating between Hamas and Israel for the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange that led to the liberation of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners between October and December 2011.[42]

Gas pipeline

The pipeline which supplies gas from Egypt to Jordan and Israel was attacked eight times between Mubarak's ousting on February 11 and November 25, 2011. Egypt had a 20-year deal to export natural gas to Israel. The deal is unpopular with the Egyptian public and critics say Israel was paying below market price for the gas.[43] Gas supplies to Israel were unilaterally halted by Egypt in 2012 because Israel had allegedly breached its obligations and stopped payments a few months prior.[44] Critical of the decision, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also insisted the cut-off was not to do with the peace treaty but rather "a business dispute between the Israeli company and the Egyptian company"; Egyptian Ambassador Yasser Rida also said the Egyptian government saw it as a business disagreement, not a diplomatic dispute.[45] Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the same, adding that perhaps the gas supplies were being used as campaign material for the Egyptian presidential election.[46] Minister of National Infrastructure Uzi Landau dismissed claims that the dispute was purely commercial in nature.[46]

See also


  1. ^ a b Kershner, Isabel (27 January 2011). "Israeli concern for peace partner". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 31 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "Egypt-Israel 'cold peace' suffers a further chill". BBC News. 10 September 2011. 
  3. ^ An uneasy Egyptian-Israeli peace - Focus - Al Jazeera English
  4. ^ "Egyptians ponder 30-year peace with Israel". BBC News. 26 March 2009. 
  5. ^ Al-Ahram Weekly | Egypt | Protocols, politics and Palestine
  6. ^ Clark, Kate (10 August 2003). "Interpreting Egypt's anti-semitic cartoons". BBC News. 
  7. ^ Columnist for Egyptian Government Daily to Hitler:'If Only You Had Done It, Brother'
  8. ^ Mahnaimi, Uzi; Aviv, Tel (21 December 2003). "Egypts spy drones spook Israel". The Times (London). 
  9. ^ "Egypt ambassador back in Israel after 4-year break". China Daily. 2005-03-18. Retrieved 2011-08-20. 
  10. ^ Barak Ravid (2011-09-11). "Israel's diplomatic ties with Egypt down to bare minimum". Haaretz. Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
  11. ^ Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel (2011-05-29). "Opening of Rafah crossing spells end of Israel's blockade of Gaza". Haaretz. Retrieved 2012-03-22. 
  12. ^ Reuters (2012-03-21). "Egypt's rulers resist Muslim Brotherhood's push to open Gaza border". Haaretz. Retrieved 2012-03-22. 
  13. ^ Barak Ravid (2012-03-12). "Egyptian parliamentary committee urges recall of Israel envoy in response to IDF strikes on Gaza". Haaretz. Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  14. ^ Raphael Ahren (11 March 2012). "Egypt without Mubarak may have trouble brokering ceasefire". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  15. ^ Elhanan Miller and AP (12 March 2012). "Egyptian parliament demands to cut ties with Israel over Gaza". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  16. ^ Israelis see business ties with Egypt continuing
  17. ^ Black, Ian (31 January 2011). "Egypt protests: Israel fears unrest may threaten peace treaty". The Guardian (London). 
  18. ^ "Netanyahu: Egypt Could Be A New Iran « Liveshots". Fox News. 8 February 2011. 
  19. ^ Fahim, Kareem (12 February 2011). "Egypt Sees New Era After Exit of Hosni Mubarak". The New York Times. 
  20. ^ Kirkpatrick, David D. (10 September 2011). "After Attack on Embassy, Egypt Vows a Tougher Stance on Protests". The New York Times. 
  21. ^ Egypt blames outside forces for embassy violence. Ynet
  22. ^ Elhanan Miller (29 March 2012). "Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood: We acknowledge peace with Israel".  
  23. ^ Zvi Bar'el (7 April 2012). "Report: Israel threatens to strike militants if Egypt fails to secure Sinai". Haaretz. Retrieved 7 April 2012. [T]he Supreme Military Council and the Muslim Brotherhood, set to control the country's future, are declaring their devotion to the Camp David Accords. 
  24. ^ Gabe Fisher (24 April 2012). "PM: We'll work with an Islamist president of Egypt so long as peace treaty is respected". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 28 April 2012. 
  25. ^ Gabe Fisher (25 April 2012). "Egypt prevents group from defacing Sinai monument to IDF soldiers". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 29 April 2012. Under the terms of the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, Egypt is responsible for maintaining the monument. In return, Israel erected and preserves a memorial for fallen Egyptian soldiers in the Negev. 
  26. ^ Harel, Amos; Issacharoff, Avi (27 June 2012). "Israeli official: Egypt likely to preserve peace treaty with Israel". Haaretz. Retrieved 30 June 2012. 
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ Associated Press (August 21, 2011). "‘Flagman’ climbs 21-story Israeli Embassy in Cairo, becoming instant hero to Cairo protesters". Washington Post. 
  34. ^ Ehud Barak, Israel Defense Minister, Regrets Deaths Of Egyptian Troops
  35. ^ "Israel Apologizes for Deaths of Egyptian Troops in Shootout With Militants". Fox News. 20 August 2011. 
  36. ^ "Egypt military vows to hunt down Sinai attackers". Associated Press. 6 August 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2012. 
  37. ^ Elhanan Miller (6 August 2012). "Egypt rues fatal unpreparedness for Sunday's terror attack, as ex-MP charges Israeli collusion". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 6 August 2012. 
  38. ^ Yoav Zitun (6 August 2012). "Watch: IAF strikes Sinai terror cell". Yedioth Ahronot. Retrieved 6 August 2012. 
  39. ^ "'"Egypt Israel border attack leaves 'five gunmen dead. BBC News. 6 August 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2012. 
  40. ^ Amos Harel (2011-11-13). "On Israel-Egypt border, best defense is a good fence". Haaretz. Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
  41. ^
  42. ^ Avi Issacharoff and Jack Khoury (2011-10-13). "Report: Shalit swap to get underway Tuesday". Haaretz. Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
  43. ^ Reuters (2011-11-25). "Report: Saboteurs blow up Egypt gas pipeline again". Haaretz. Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
  44. ^ Tobias Buck; Heba Saleh (22 April 2012). "Egypt halts gas supplies to Israel".  
  45. ^ Stuart Winer (23 April 2012). "Netanyahu: Egyptian gas cutoff is business, not politics". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 30 April 2012. 
  46. ^ a b Stuart Winer (23 April 2012). "Foreign minister: Turning Egyptian gas supply halt into a political dispute is a mistake". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 30 April 2012. 

External links

  • Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the relation with Egypt
  • Israeli embassy in Cairo
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