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Israel to Clinton: Tell us what Egypt is thinking

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"Our attempts to reach the Muslim Brotherhood were not very successful," says Eli Shaked, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt. "We greatly need the US to make sure that the Egyptians aren't making mistakes and thinking about changing the peace agreement with Israel." Mr. Shaked, who has been briefed on diplomacy efforts, says that the Israeli ambassador's efforts to reach out to the new Egyptian administration received no response. 

 Israel's treaty with Egypt includes a limit on Egyptian military deployments in the Sinai peninsula, creating a largely demilitarized buffer between the countries, and Israel fears now that the new president will reopen the issue. In the last year, rising security chaos in the desert peninsula has become a bone of contention between the sides. 

During the presidential campaign, many candidates, Morsi included, argued that the provision regulating Egyptian troop presence in the Sinai needs to be revisited to allow more Egyptian military forces there to boost control and stymie an upsurge of militant attacks from Sinai into Israel (there were two in 2011).

Israel is worried that reopening the treaty could be used as a pretext for anti-Israel politicians in Egypt to erode ties between the two countries and prefers the ad-hoc, mutually agreed-to deployments of Egyptian military reinforcements in Sinai. In a message to the new Egyptian administration, Israel offered its consent to deploying infantry reinforcements, according to Zalzburg. The two countries agreed to similar reinforcements last year, but Israel is unlikely to acquiesce to anything more substantial, such as tanks.

The cross-border attacks are considered merely a tactical thorn for the time being, rather than a real threat to the peace treaty. But they do put pressure on both countries' security establishments to bring an end to such attacks. There's a risk that attacks, like a shooting attack in May which killed one Israeli, could sour the ties and create a real crisis for the peace treaty.

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