By Emanuel A. Winston
Israel is being squeezed from all sides. Regrettably, a series of Israeli Prime Ministers have succumbed to the pressure, namely, Rabin, Peres, Netanyahu. We are all aware of the pressure in the North to withdraw from the protective Security Zone in Lebanon, bringing Hezb'Allah terror attacks right up to Israel's Northern cities. Here the pressure comes from both within Israel and without. The Players are the Israeli Left (Labor), Syria, the US and the EU. Each, for its own reasons, wants Israel out of the Security Zone. The European Union (those nations who delivered their Jews to the Germans) have just issued a dictum wherein they state that the city of Jerusalem is "occupied territory". This is in sync with the older demand of Rome that Jerusalem be internationalized.
Consider the added pressure on Israel to ignore Arafat's non-compliance with his Olso/Hebron/Wye agreements and assist the Labor party back into office so it can accelerate an unreciprocated withdrawal.
In the South something else seems to be on the agenda. It appears that Egypt is re-thinking its agreed border adjustments in the Sinai - particularly in the region of Eilat. Previously, the Egyptians agreed to the final border which stopped at Taba. Now Egypt has started to quietly speak about an Egyptian land bridge around the tip of the Gulf of Aqaba which would take in Eilat. It's unlikely the Israelis would agree to giving up an important port and a prime tourist city like Eilat. However, there appears more in the mix than merely forcing Israel into further withdrawals to gain more land.
It looks to me that, under US direction, a program is and has been in operation for Egypt to "save" Saudi Arabia from a possible invasion by Iraq, Syria and/or Iran. The concept would be that Egypt, using a land bridge around the tip of the Aqaba waterway, would occupy Saudi Arabia to "protect" the oil fields. Of course, once there, it is unlikely that they would ever leave. Much the same as when America agreed that Syria could occupy Lebanon and now will never leave.
Israel would have to agree to either gift a land bridge to Egypt - or allow free passage of the Egyptian Army. Israel is always a sucker for almost any US-brokered agreement, usually followed by breaking of that agreement by the Arab partner with no US objections . It is hard to predict what Israel's leaders will do since they are not known for their long-range vision nor their ability to protect the nation's patrimony.
If Israel is pressured by US Arabists to cede land or free passage to Egypt, they will have a long term problem. At the moment, the Sinai was supposed to be de-militarized according to the Camp David Accords. That was breached long ago when the Egyptians moved military equipment and missiles into the Sinai. When the Israelis complained to the US about Egypt's breach in agreements, offering conclusive proof, they were at first ignored and then told to shut up.
Why would Israel agree to allow Egypt, one of the largest and well-armed armies, to occupy Saudi Arabia for any reason? Even if US Arabists promised the world to Israel for them to allow this to happen, it would still be a bad deal. If you look at a map, you can see that Israel would be facing a deadly threat from the Arabian Peninsula if it were in Egyptian control.
As it stands, Saudi Arabia is no significant threat to Israel nor is Israel a threat to the Saudis. In a way, Israel provides a significant threat to invaders from the North - such as Syria, Iraq and Iran. Israel, for its own protection and interests could very well join the Saudis in repelling hostile forces. Regrettably, American Arabists in the White House and State Department have been operating on the philosophy that a weak Israel would appease the Arab nations and allow our US forces in - because the Arab countries were so grateful. But, the Arabs do not want US soldiers (unbelievers in Islam) on their soil. They want our equipment and in dire emergencies, as happened in Kuwait, they will accept our blood payment, allowing American troops to save them.
The land bridge concept is not new. Syria, through the US, pressed Israel to cede part of the Port of Haifa and the Jezreel Valley for better access to the Mediterranean. This, of course, did not come to pass, just as a land bridge for Egypt is unlikely to come to happen. The Palestinians also want land bridges to their various enclaves. The idea promulgated within the Arab manipulative mind-set is that, Israel can be truncated by slicing off land in the North - South - and Center of the country. What's left can be further divided by the so-called "safe passage land corridors". As is said in the wisdom of the street: Israel will be sliced, diced and schmised (slang for smashed).
As for trusting Egypt, it's still the same unreliable nation it always was. It's Government-controlled newspapers are full of anti-Semitic articles and vicious cartoons. It has been piling up arms, with US taxpayers picking up the tab, ($1.2 Billion of US aid each year since 1979). Now, Secretary of Defense Cohen agreed to sell Egypt $3.2 Billion in advanced arms, to include: 24 advanced F16 fighter jets for a total of 220 F16s; 200 M1A1 Abrams tanks in addition to 555 previously sold; and a full 8 unit battery of ground-to-air Patriot missiles now, plus 32 Patriot 3 model missiles.Exactly who is Egypt's enemy? Who is Egypt arming against? Libya - Sudan - anyone? Egypt is on the verge of going Islamic which would make it a dangerous military force threatening (only) Israel. Now Mr. Cohen, who will pay for Mr. Clinton's $3.2 Billion tax payers' dollars gift to Egypt?
Emanuel A. Winston is a Middle East analyst & commentator and research associate of the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies.