Egypt made history this week, supporting Israel’s bid for membership in the Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space Affairs at the United Nations. It was the first time Egypt voted in support of Israel since it backed the 1948 United Nations vote establishing the Jewish nation.
CBN The vote passed by a wide margin, with 117 member states in favor; 21 abstentions, among them Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Tunisia, Morocco, Qatar, and Kuwait; and Namibia the only country opposing the Israeli bid.
“The vote today proves there are some countries who find it more important to bash Israel than to contribute to the international community, like Qatar who abstained on the vote even though it was a vote on its own acceptance to the committee,” the Israeli Mission to the United Nations said in a statement.
In September, Egyptian President Fattah Abdel el-Sisi called on more Arab countries to make peace with Israel, saying the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel has held for nearly four decades despite doubters.
Last year, the unlikely alliance between Israel and Egypt against Hamas, shocked Israel’s critics in the Obama regime.
WSJ Israel and Egypt quietly agreed to work in concert to squeeze Hamas after Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi was deposed as president of Egypt in 2013.
When former military chief Abdel Fattah Al Sisi rose to power in Egypt after leading the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, Israel found the two countries had a common interest in suppressing the Islamist group that ruled Gaza. They worked to bring pressure on their shared enemy.
What Washington never anticipated was that the two countries would come to trust each other more than the Americans, who would watch events in Gaza unfold largely from the sidelines as the Israelis and the Egyptians planned out their next steps.
Hamas, which ruled Gaza for the past 8 years, came to rely on cash supplied by Qatar transferred through Egypt, with the assent of Mr. Morsi, and on revenue from smuggling goods through tunnels reaching into Egypt. Mr. Sisi rose to power. Israeli officials knew Egypt was as committed as they were to reining in Hamas when Mr. Sisi sent word earlier this year that his forces had completely destroyed 95% of the tunnels under Egypt’s border with Gaza.
Moreover, as an Egyptian nationalist, he saw Mr. Morsi’s Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, and its Palestinian offshoot, Hamas, as threats to the state that needed to be suppressed with a heavy hand, the Israeli official said.
Israeli intelligence analysts interpreted Mr. Sisi’s comments about keeping the peace with Israel and ridding Egypt of Islamists as a “personal realization that we—Israel—were on his side,” the Israeli official said.
The revelation that Hamas was equally abhorrent to Mr. Sisi as it was to the Israeli government spurred efforts to reward him. Israel used its clout in Washington to lobby the Obama administration and Congress on his behalf, in particular arguing against a U.S. decision to cut off military aid to Egypt, Israeli officials said.
“It came at a very formative time for him” and helped cement a trusting relationship between friends who realized they were vital to each others’ national security, he said. In Gaza, there was shock at the events unfolding in Cairo.
U.S. officials didn’t agree with what they saw as Mr. Sisi’s theory about Hamas threatening the Egyptian state. They feared his heavy hand against Islamists in Egypt would drive them underground and might set off a civil war. The criticism only deepened the bond between Mr. Sisi and Israel, U.S. and Israeli officials said.
Egypt secretly coordinated with senior Israeli officials led by Maj. Gen. (Res.) Amos Gilad, the director of the political-military affairs bureau at Israel’s Defense Ministry, who is known in the Israeli security establishment as the “granddaddy” of the Israeli-Egyptian channel, Israeli officials said.
Mr. Gilad and other Israeli officials shuttled between Israel and Egypt and spoke to their Egyptian counterparts by phone. Officials said the two sides spoke every day, more often during crises.
U.S. officials, who tried to intervene in the initial days after the Israeli-Gaza conflict broke out on July 8 to try to find a negotiated solution, soon realized that Mr. Netanyahu’s office wanted to run the show with Egypt and to keep the Americans at a distance, according to U.S., European and Israeli officials.
When a tentative deal finally came together in Cairo to stop the fighting, Washington found itself outside looking in on the Israeli-Egyptian partnership once again.