Israel takes measured response to events in Egypt

Hamas leaders in Gaza said to be in shock over fall of Muslim Brotherhood

Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu has asked his ministers to stick to the official line that the unfolding events are an internal Egyptian affair. Photograph: Menahem Kahana-Pool/Getty Images

Although Israeli ministers and generals have been ordered not to comment on developments in Egypt, anonymous officials expressed satisfaction over the ousting of president Mohamed Morsi and the enhanced role of the Egyptian military.

Hamas leaders in Gaza have also refrained from commenting, but are said to be in shock over the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Hamas regime's closest allies.

Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu asked his ministers to stick to the official line that the unfolding events are an internal Egyptian affair. He said Israel had managed to weather the greatest shake-up in the Arab world in 90 years, and remains "an island of democracy in a sea of instability and despotism".

For Israel, upholding the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt and maintaining quiet in the tense Sinai peninsula on Israel's border remain key strategic goals. The ousting of Hosni Mubarak as president in 2011 sent shock waves through Israel and this was followed by a rise in militant Islamic activity in Sinai, prompting Israel to send reinforcements to the border. However, diplomatic ties remained intact, the peace treaty was upheld and a line of communication was maintained via the Egyptian military.


Security cooperation continued and Israel welcomed efforts by the Morsi government to close smuggling tunnels between Gaza and the Sinai. The Egyptian army also played a key role in brokering the ceasefire at the end of the Gaza war in November 2012.

The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank welcomed the news of the second Egyptian revolution. President Mahmoud Abbas was quick to send a congratulatory letter to interim Egyptian president Adly Mansour.

Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh said Gaza was "closely monitoring the developments in Egypt from a place of love and preservation of its unity".

Hamas, historically considered the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, has suffered a major setback in losing the support of its Egyptian mentor. It recently cut ties with Syria and Iran, and is now left with Qatar and Turkey as regional allies.

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss is a contributor to The Irish Times based in Jerusalem