Home inContext Egyptian Lawmakers Clarify: ‘Will Never be a Friend’ of Israel

Egyptian Lawmakers Clarify: ‘Will Never be a Friend’ of Israel

Erin Dwyer

Egypt’s People’s Assembly demanded Monday that the Israeli ambassador to Egypt be deported and the Egyptian ambassador withdrawn from Tel Aviv. The unanimous vote in favor of a harshly-worded statement prepared by the Committee on Arab Affairs also included a call to cease gas exports to Israel. “Egypt after the revolution will never be a friend of the Zionist entity, the first enemy of Egypt and the Arab nation,” the statement read.

The vote came as a response to Israel’s military strikes against the Gaza Strip between Friday and Monday, which left 26 Palestinians dead, four of whom were civilians. Fighting between Gaza militants and Israel began when Israel killed the secretary general of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), Zuhair Qaisi, who was planning an attack against Israeli targets along the Sinai-Israel border. Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr publicly condemned the attacks, telling Israel to end the “bloodshed of our brothers.” He said nothing of Gaza militants’ attacks against Israel.

Israeli school girls take cover next to a bus during a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip.

Indeed, over the course of four days, militants in Gaza launched some 300 rockets at Israel, injuring eight civilians and tormenting Israel’s southern population. The fighting came to an end with an unofficial truce Tuesday. However, seven projectiles were fired at Israel since, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized that “anyone who breaks (the peace) or even tries to break it – our cross-hairs will find him.”

As for Egypt, the parliament’s demands to halt gas exports to Israel and deport Israel’s ambassador to Cairo are largely symbolic. Only the ruling military council can make such decisions. Nevertheless, the People’s Assembly’s vote foreshadows future policy decisions in Cairo, as the transition of power from the ruling military council to elected civilian authorities is expected to take place this June. Egypt’s parliament, whose Islamic bloc seeks to strengthen ties with Hamas in Gaza and renegotiate components of the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, represents the growing regional instability and uncertainty now facing the Jewish State.