Israel’s other problem: Egypt
Protesters in Egypt climb over a wall meant to protect the Israeli embassy in Cairo on September 9.
September 23rd, 2011
07:30 PM ET

Israel’s other problem: Egypt

While the question of Palestinian statehood took center stage at the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, another issue in the region was being discussed among diplomats in the halls and meeting rooms - the rise in tension between Egypt and Israel.

"The administration here, and in most other places in the world, understands that that’s the real game," said Daniel Kurtzer, who has served as U.S. ambassador to both Israel and Egypt.

A couple of weeks ago, the Israeli embassy in Egypt was overrun by a mob, causing Israeli diplomats to flee. In August, a string of attacks in southern Israel near the Egyptian border left several people dead; Israeli officials believe the attackers had support from within Egypt's Sinai peninsula.

"For many years, those of us who have been studying or working in and on the Middle East have known that there’s a great deal of anger built up in the so-called Arab Street over the failure to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli/Arab-Israeli conflict,” said Kurtzer, now a professor of Middle Eastern policy studies at Princeton University.

Under Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, that anger was kept in check. But Mubarak was ousted this year, and the interim leaders find themselves dealing with a segment of society that suddenly feels free to express their opinions publicly - sometimes with violence - with less fear of a crackdown.

"They certainly have their hands full," Kurtzer said. "This is one of several major problems that are competing for top attention ... all of these compete now with a foreign policy crisis engendered by mob violence."

And that has many people concerned about the future of an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty that has been in place for three decades.

Click the audio player to hear the rest of the story from CNN Radio's Steve Kastenbaum:

You can also listen to the CNN Radio Reports podcast on itunes or subscribe to the podcast here.

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Filed under: Egypt • Israel
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Anomic Office Drone

    if they weren't so oppressive towards Arabs within their borders, they would have far less aggression coming from Arabs outside their borders.

    September 23, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinker23

      But of course! Nothing but "their oppression" keeps the 1.4 million Israeli Arabs from moving out and many more millions who would gladly sell their souls to devil for Israeli citizenship. Nothing but oppression...

      September 23, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bimbo the Birthday Clown

      I've been there and seen it firsthand. The average Arab with Israeli citizenship is living a much better life than the average Arab living in an Arab League country. The real opression going on in that part of the world is rich Arabs oppressing poor Arabs.

      September 25, 2011 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. Cle Mong

    Egypt should take the lead in uniting the Arabian and African Countries to provide peace and stability through out the region.
    Europe and the USA treat non white people like garbage by handing out welfare checks and destroying countries, Europe and the USA have money problems and a shortage of natural resources, The Arabian and African countries should kick out the Europeans and Americans, and take control of their natural resources, Perhaps Asia and China would be better partners to help build a peaceful region, without war and destruction. What would Europe and America do if their oil supply supply was terminated, and sold to Asia and China.

    September 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinker23

      If their oil supply was terminated and if there was no other option Europe and America would simply take the oil from the Arabs...

      September 23, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • JEP11

      The American government would simply wage war, no matter who the President was. We simply can not function without oil. American businesses don't mind paying for it but we simply MUST have oil!

      September 24, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bill

    The real play here and what's not being reported is that the muslim brotherhood, along with al qaeda and the taliban are the ones behind the whole "arab spring" movement. Israel will soon be totally surrounded by openly hostile neighbors and it will doom any chance for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel will not give up land that can be used by a hostile nation(Egypt) for an invasion, they'd be stupid to do so-any country would be.

    September 23, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. yada

    So after 30 years of Israel and Egypt honorng their peace treaty, now not so much huh? Interesting.

    September 23, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ahmed

    after egyptian revolution there's no one has talk about israel or even remember that they exist .... but when they killed 6 of our solders (that's something the report didn't even mention it by the way) .... just after that egyptians people or mob 🙂 as mr. Steve Kastenbaum called them .... just after that they kicked out Israeli diplomats .... because that's what our government should do at the first place .... i just want to tell you that those mob you talk about didn't kill any one .... but the peaceful great solders and people of israel killed thousands palestinians im gaza and killed our solders out there border and killed peaceful turkish people in the see .... i think they are not mob at all because mob is very very very tiny description of what they do and writers like you help them to ... i hope every isreal supporter have a deep sleep with his hand dirty with humans blood 🙁

    September 24, 2011 at 5:22 am | Report abuse |
  6. mikefarris

    as for the oil thing as of now the Arabs would starve to death without oil exports to us and Europe rest of Arab country's already sell oil to china and Asia that are not in good terms with us and Europe and us and Europe would also starve to death without this oil also everyone knows it also because of Arabs playing back and forth on oil production to so call punish the world this is why the worlds economy is down and so will there's be and for this reason oil alternatives are being put to the test so they can destroy there economy's and not ours and if the Arabs want to fight remember one thing the rest of the world can starve and suffer from oil embargos but our military's will fight with there bare hands if they have to and we can refuel at your gas stations using American express cards all over the middle east

    September 24, 2011 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |

    think there is anything under the sphinx?

    September 24, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  8. Unknown

    The Egyptian mobs did do a wrong thing, but they do not represent the Egyptian people. The Israeli forces killed 6 Egyptian soldiers on the border for no reason. Isn't that against the peace treaty? The Egyptian authorities did not care about these soldiers, so these people thought that attacking the embassy was the right thing to do. The Egyptians should've interrogated the Israeli ambassador for killing 6 soldiers on the border and going against the treaty they signed. The Israeli Jews that follow God's word are good people, but the Israeli's that kill and go against God are bad people

    September 24, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  9. s kel

    Yeah RUFF I belive its both Cleo and Patra.

    September 24, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  10. HERKIMER SCHWARTZ (artist formerly known as bobcat2u)

    Now that Egypt has no semblance of a government, the people are just more or less running free with no one interested in trying to reel it in to some form of normalcy.
    Granted, Mubarak was no prize, but at least he was able to keep his area of the mid east stabilized.
    Now the fools are running rampant and you know that is not going to bode well for their future.

    September 24, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. SpiderCNN

    As a coerced new regime into the region Israel itself is the problem!

    September 24, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Egygirl

      thank you for stating what shld be obvious, if someone lives in a street and complains about and bullies all his neighbours then something must be wrong with this person not the other way around. Egyptian, Palestinian and any other blood isnt cheaper than Israeli blood and if we Egyptians were interested in attacking Israel how come not once during revolution there was a demonstration or as much as a finger left against an Israeli national or an Israeli embassy?! Our current regime just acted as if it was business as usual and Israel make a big deal about not apologising and bearing legal ramifications for their crime, the least they shldve done + sending those idiot IDFs to a proper court. None of this was done and so the ppl had to take matters into their own hands. Before any one including the writer sits comfortable pointing fingers and feeling for Israel, plz let me knw if this was ur own, how wld u have reacted? SHAME ON ANY ONE WHO BELIEVES ONE SOUL IS BETTER OR MORE PRESSURE THAN ANOTHER .

      September 24, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. saywhat

    Winds of change are blowing across M.East. People power now claims reckoning. The days of oppression, apartheid and authoritarian rule are numbered.

    No longer now possible for the far-far right psychotic regimes like that under Netanyahu to continue with their policies which Jews everywhere are rejecting. Tens of thousands have been coming out in the streets of Israel & camping out to decry these policies. Israeli academics, intellectuals & commentators are now bravely defying the clamp down of that oppressive regime & voicing their discontent.
    The summer of discontent is now turning into a movement for social, economic reforms & equitable, just and lasting resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict based on a two-state settlement. Nations around the world are endorsing the movement.
    Its sad to see that the political leadership in our dear ol' US of A refuses to recognize momentous changes taking place beyond our borders and continues blindly plodding on the same beaten path that has gotten us nowhere but in the middle of a humogous mess of our own making.

    September 24, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. saywhat

    pardon the typos folks.
    Have a good one.

    September 24, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Egygirl

    Well, its not like Egyptians did attack Israeli embassy out of no where. A- No reliable evidence has been put forward to support this claim that "the attackers came from/supported by Egyptians in Sinai", all just Israeli claims nothing more and nothing new here, Israeli gov failed to protect its own and we are to blame as usual. B- It is so stupid of you and of most Western news coverage to not make it clear that as a matter of fact and despite the Peace accords, Israel keeps on killing Egyptian soldiers and citizens at the borders. The latest of these crimes was the main reason the embassy was attacked, this time it was clear Israeli forces where inside Egyptian soil and air space, and this is proved by UN troops reporting this violation of the Camp David agreement and Int law. Last time the US was attacked on its own soil, you guys launched 2 wars on 2 entire nations who were not boarding these planes. For God's sake take this Israel blind fold and have some dignity when reporting on MENA events, bec we are fed up of these distortions and if u care much for peace and Israel tell them to not do to others what they dnt like being done to them. SIMPLE

    September 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Donna

    Let the Middle East drink their oil and eat their sand. We still have plenty of natural resources that haven't even been tapped. Oh, and Israel, you're on you own over there you big bully.

    September 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Egygirl

      This is usual ignorant Western way of thinking. Plz make some effort and check how much money from MENA nationals is invested in the US and Europe and how many jobs are created bec of this. Its a mutual interests issue and ppl like you living in ur own little bubble is exactly why US and EU economies are going down the drain. Learn to respect others the same way ud want them to respect you as for Israel being on its own, Im afraid that if this was true we wldve had some meaningful peace by now but of course US taxpayers money is used to keep Israeli war loving state floating, loads of money, loads of weapons all paid by Americans and then we hear the US talking about peace.

      September 24, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
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