Egyptian President Morsi has political reasons for publicly rebuking Israel while privately seeking a quiet form of cooperation.
Egypt has no valid reason for initiating a further deterioration of its relations with Israel, which have nearly reached rock-bottom since the election of a president who cannot bring himself to utter the name “Israel.” There is today no dispute between the two countries and nothing to explain this state of affairs except for Muslim fanaticism and blind support for the Palestinians. Morsi knows well enough who started the present round of fighting – as well as the previous ones – but feels that Muslim/Arab solidarity demands a “suitable Egyptian response” to demonstrate to the Egyptian and Arab public that the Muslim Brothers stand by their traditional hostility toward Israel.
The Egyptian president must be seen as doing more than his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, who recalled his ambassador a number of times – from Operation Peace for the Galilee through the second intifada and more. Recalling the ambassador is becoming routine and is losing its effectiveness.
Yet unless something dramatic happens, one can cautiously predict that Egypt will not take further steps to endanger even more the relations between the two countries. Cooperation on issues having to do with terror – the only field in which the countries are still cooperating – will go on. At the same time, inflammatory rhetoric against Israel and Zionism will rise and mass demonstrations in Tahrir Square can be expected. The Supreme Guide of the Brotherhood has already called for a “million man march” after Friday’s prayers in the mosques. Not to be outdone, Sheikh Al-Azhar has added his voice to the chorus to show that he hates Israel as much as the Brothers do.