Israel fears the force of Arab Spring power shift

Rise of Islamists in Egypt and beyond confronts Barak with daunting new set of region faultlines

Jerusalem

With Islamists poised to take power in Egypt, Israel is watching its neighbour with trepidation, fearful of the consequences for a three-decades-old peace accord. Preliminary results put the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties ahead of their liberal and secular rivals, radically altering the political landscape in the most populous Arab nation and prompting fears of an Islamist revival on Israel's border.

The Israeli Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, described initial polling as "very, very disturbing", a view that will strike a chord with many in his country.

A senior Israeli security official told the Yedioth Ahronot newspaper the results were "even worse than we predicted". The Finance Minister, Yuval Steinitz, admitted: "We are worried", and hoped Egypt "won't become an extremist Islamist state, because that would put the whole region in danger".

Israel fears the Muslim Brotherhood, one of its outspoken critics, could review a 1979 peace accord deemed as vital for Middle East stability and bolster Hamas, which governs Gaza and is deemed a terrorist group by Israel.

Strides made by the Salafists – much more hardline than the Muslim Brotherhood – would put more pressure on Cairo to reconsider the peace accord. The deal forced Israel's withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula – now a demilitarised zone – and secured Egypt billions of dollars in international aid.

Speaking at the weekend, Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu urged Egypt to honour the settlement. "We hope any future government in Egypt will recognise the importance of keeping the peace treaty with Israel in its own right and as a basis for regional security and economic stability," he said.

But a new government is likely to consider the increasingly hostile public mood towards Israel over its policies towards Palestinians.

Following the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, under whom public criticism of Israel was muted, Egyptians have vented their frustrations towards their neighbour and Israel's ambassador was forced to flee as rioters stormed the embassy three months ago.

Slow to welcome the Arab Spring, Israel was almost alone among Western democracies in backing Mr Mubarak amid mass protests.

Egypt's former leader had a warm relationship with Israel and shared its distrust of Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. The latter was banned in Egypt under the Mubarak regime. Mr Mubarak also willingly complied with Israel's blockade of Gaza.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Bookkeeper - German Speaking - Part Time

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

Ashdown Group: Field Service Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Co-Ordinator

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...

Day In a Page

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk
Nepal earthquake: One man's desperate escape from Everest base camp after the disaster

Escape from Everest base camp

Nick Talbot was sitting in his tent when the tsunami of snow and rock hit. He was lucky to live, unlike his climbing partner just feet away...
Adopting high fibre diet could dramatically cut risk of bowel cancer, says study

What happened when 20 Americans swapped diets with 20 Africans?

Innovative study in the US produces remarkable results
Blake Lively and 'The Age of Adaline': Gossip Girl comes
of age

Gossip girl comes of age

Blake Lively is best known for playing an affluent teenager. Her role as a woman who is trapped forever at 29 is a greater challenge
Goat cuisine: Kid meat is coming to Ocado

Goat cuisine

It's loved by chefs, ethical, low in fat and delicious. So, will kid meat give lamb a run for its money?
14 best coat hooks

Hang on: 14 best coat hooks

Set the tone for the rest of your house with a stylish and functional coat rack in the hallway
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?