Mubarak kept the ties with Israel at the lowest possible level required to maintain the peace treaty. The bonfire of peace he created was so small that any wind could have extinguished it.
Mubarak took power after serving as Egypt’s Air Force commander. As such, he reached the same conclusion arrived at by Anwar Sadat in 1977, when he decided to reach out and make peace with Israel. The ousted president realized that Egypt cannot defeat Israel in war. He also realized that should he annul the peace treaty, Israel will have to retake the demilitarized Sinai – not happily, but through lack of choice – in order to regain the barrier needed for its defense.
Mubarak knew that after Egypt got back the entire Sinai and was credited with the fact that it surprised Israel and crossed the Suez Canal in 1973, an Israeli invasion into Sinai would eliminate his rule. The crossing of the Canal is still etched in Egypt’s collective memory, and even in his retirement speech Mubarak mentioned it
However, alongside Mubarak’s strategic decision to maintain the peace treaty, he also took the decision not to warm up the ties or prompt true rapprochement between the two peoples. When did you last see an Egyptian tourist around here?
Throughout his 29 years in office, Mubarak arrived in Israel only once, for the funeral of Yitzhak Rabin. Before that and after it he strongly objected to visits here and preferred to see Israeli leaders arriving to curry favor at his palaces in Heliopolis and Sharm el-Sheikh.
Had he wanted it, throughout his presidency President Mubarak could move closer, embrace us, speak warmly and leave behind him the kind of legacy that would ensure that the peace treaty is maintained even after he leaves. The fact is that at this time, nothing is guaranteed any longer in respect to Israel-Egypt ties.
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