Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Egyptian Roadblock To Peace

Jacob Heilbrunn on why no one should expect progress between Israel and the Palestinians with Egypt in play:

For Israel to embark upon serious negotiations would be tantamount to negotiating with a loaded revolver to its head. It doesn't know how Egypt is going to play out, either. Might Egypt turn into an actively hostile foe after decades of a cold peace? Is Israel's "strategic space" about to shrink further? The odds are that Israel will turn even further to the right should Egypt devolve back into nationalism, or some syncretic form of "isms" that includes radical Islam.

If Egypt turns out well, and some form of tender democratic shoots take hold, then the pressure on Israel would mount considerably to reach some kind of deal with the Palestinians. But the situation is far too murky to expect more than bluff and bombast to emanate from both the Israelis and Palestinians about the peace process for weeks to come.

Anyway, the problem in the Middle East right now isn't Israel. It's radical Islam. Pakistan, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia could all face internal turmoil should the Tunisian revolt continue to spread. Perhaps this really will be 1989 all over again. But there is plenty of room to wonder.

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