Egypt: Cairo Cancels Israeli Prime Minister’s Visit over Security Cooperation Disclosure
Egypt has cancelled a historic meeting between President al-Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz opened the lid over the security cooperation between the two countries.
Cairo’s decision followed comments made by Yuval Steinitz earlier this month concerning security cooperation between Egypt and Israel.
Steinitz reportedly indicated that President al-Sisi’s orders to flood several Hamas-made tunnels linking Gaza to Egypt were made at Israeli requests. He also affirmed that security cooperation between Israel and Egypt is “better than ever,” and asserted that “flooding is a good solution” for the challenge of tackling Hamas’ intricate tunnel system.
The minister’s comments were also unwelcome in Israel as security authorities knew that the comments would frustrate Cairo which has been developing secret ties with Jerusalem.
Cairo fears the disclosure of security cooperation with Israeli will flare up domestic anger and trigger popular protest against al-Sisi who will be treated as traitor and colliding with the enemy.
Many Egyptians view security cooperation with Israel a treason against the Palestinians and against the Arab world in general.
For Al-Sisi, Hamas, a movement deemed as the Palestinian branch of the Egyptian outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, is a threat to national security.
Cairo also accuses Hamas of colliding with Islamic State’s Sinai local branch that has inflicted losses to Egyptian security forces since 2013.
According to “The Jerusalem Post” Cairo needs support from Israel to destroy Hamas’s tunnels linking Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula.
Relations between Egypt and Israel strained after ousted President Mohamed Morsi had recalled Egyptian ambassador to Jerusalem following Israeli incursion on Gaza.
Israel has reportedly supported al-Sisi’s military coup against Morsi.
Since last year, both countries have been working to thaw ties. Al-Sisi appointed a new ambassador to Jerusalem while Israel reopened its foreign mission in Cairo after it was stormed in 2011.