Netanyahu’s Egypt Problem


The new Netanyahu-Lieberman government in Israel is going to have some problems in its relationship with the United States. But the bigger immediate problem is going to relate to Israel’s strategically important relationships with other countries in the region. For example, Egypt:

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s diplomatic bombshell Wednesday that Israel was no longer obligated by the Annapolis process, but was committed to the road map, was followed by silence on Thursday as neither Lieberman nor Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office issued directives to Israeli diplomats about how to explain the new policy abroad. […] Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit said he would not shake Lieberman’s hand until he retracted previous statements such as the threat to blow up the Aswan Dam and the remark that Mubarak could “go to hell” if he didn’t want to visit Israel. […] He continued, “I have met with more than one Israeli foreign minister, and I have welcomed them in Egypt. But never before has any of them said anything like what [Lieberman] said against Egypt.”

The United States has recently emerged from an extended period of inept diplomacy. The good news, for us, is that as the world’s largest economy and mightiest military power, we had the luxury of a pretty big margin of error. Israel doesn’t have that luxury. And Lieberman’s rhetorical excesses aside, the fundamental problem of relations with Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey will remain as long as Israel is committed to Bibi Netanyahu’s determination to avoid even contemplating an independent Palestine.