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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Egypt starts ignoring Camp David

Remember how Morsi promised to respect all signed agreements? Well, not so much.

Ha'aretz reports:
The Egyptian army has been deploying large anti-terrorist forces in parts of the Sinai peninsula without informing Israel in advance. The peace treaty between the two countries limits the Egyptian military presence in Sinai.

Some of the Egyptian forces in the peninsula were sent there with Israel's consent, but Haaretz has learned that forces have also been deployed without Israel's prior approval. Israeli government officials only learned about it after the fact. Although Israeli defense officials declined to comment on the matter, they did note that there has been good security cooperation between the two countries, adding that there is regular contact between the two sides.

According to the 1979 peace agreement negotiated at Camp David, Egypt is not allowed to introduce tanks into certain areas of Sinai, including the vicinity of Al-Arish, to which dozens of tanks have been transported over the past several days. The treaty also bars the use of fighter aircraft, including helicopters, but that was approved retroactively by the Israeli security cabinet.

At the moment, Israel has decided not to respond to the unilateral Egyptian moves, apparently to avoid a confrontation. Nonetheless, it is seen as a source of future problems, particularly with the entrenchment of the Muslim Brotherhood's power in Egypt. The Egyptians could ask to have their current troop presence remain in Sinai until the end of their military operations there, although it is not clear when that would be.

The situation puts Israel in a dilemma. Just three days ago, Mohammed Gadallah, legal adviser to President Mohammed Morsi, said the president was considering amendments to the Camp David Accords to provide Egypt with "full sovereignty" over the peninsula.

(h/t Yoel)