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Arab Spring Believers Are Fools, Israeli MK Says

Benjamin Gottlieb |
September 14, 2011 | 10:30 p.m. PDT

Senior News Editor

Arieh Eldad, an Israeli physician and politician, and a member of the Knesset for the National Union.
Arieh Eldad, an Israeli physician and politician, and a member of the Knesset for the National Union.
It's been more than nine months since the seeds of revolution sprouted along the streets of Tunisia.

From those streets, revolution spread like wildfire across the Arab world, inspiring millions to rise up against the entrenched regimes of Egypt, Libya and Syria, among others.

Now in its autumn, one Israeli Knesset member believes that the Arab Spring was a sham; a major disappointment for those fighting for peace and stability in the region.

Neon Tommy spoke with Arieh Eldad, a member of Israel's parliament, to discuss Arab Spring, the recent attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo and the current state of Israel’s relationships with its Arab neighbors. Eldad is member of Israel’s National Union - a group of nationalist political parties in Israel - and a staunch Revisionist Zionist.


Benjamin Gottlieb: Where does Israel’s relationship with Egypt stand in the wake of the Arab Spring and recent attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo?

Arieh Eldad: The people who believe in the Arab Spring are fools who are addicted to the wishful thinking that these changes will lead the democratization of the Middle East. All it will do is bring radical Islam, jihadi movements and, in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood to power. So I'm not quite sure it changes anything.

BG: What about the current agreement Israel has with Egypt? Are you worried that it is in jeopardy?

AE: We have an agreement, and the current military regime respects it. However, since the riots in Tahrir Square, the Sinai Peninsula became a training field for al Qaeda and a huge arsenal for Hamas. They can store missiles in Sinai knowing that Israel will not attack because Egypt is a friendly country.

But we anticipate a gradual change in Egypt. Eventually the Muslim Brother[hood] will be in power.

We don’t have to create any new peace deal — as long as they respect the contract we signed, that’s fine. I think that will last a year or two and, under certain circumstances, they will prefer to break it.

BG: The Arab Spring has played out differently across the Middle East and North Africa, especially amongst Israel’s regional allies: Egypt and Jordan. While Egypt overthrew the Mubarak regime, Jordan’s Hashemite kingdom was able to remain in power. Is Israel concerned about a similar revolution down the line in Jordan?

AE: Certainly, the hostility in Jordan is not a new phenomenon. This has been going on the past two or three years. I think that the Palestinians, who make up about 75-80 percent of Jordan, are looking in envy at what’s happening happened in Egypt and Syria and they thinking, “Why not us?”

Eventually, they will get rid of the Hashemite and that’s good news for Israel. Maybe the world will understand that we don’t need another Palestinian state. We’ve already got one, and that’s Jordan.

I think this is the plan that we should try for: East of the Jordan [River] is the Kingdom of Jordan, the future Palestinian state, and the state of Israel from the Jordan [River] to the sea.

BG: The Palestinian Authority will go before the U.N. next week seeking the recognition of a Palestinian state. What’s your position on this?

The United States promised to veto any request in the Security Council. The General Assembly can recognize them as a state. They already did in 1988. 104 countries voted for it.

BG: You don’t believe in the creation of a Palestinian state?

AE: Officially, they are already recognized by the U.N. But that’s meaningless.

What I’m afraid of is that the expectations being built up by the Palestinians will cause violence. They will wake up the next morning and want a state, and these expectations may lead to a third intifada.

The changes in the Middle East are also an opportunity for a different type of solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I hope the world will understand it.

BG: And what about Syria? How does Israel view the conflict there?

Practically, we couldn’t care less. Assad is an enemy. He’s the devil that we know. That’s the only benefit in his regime. He has killed his people in masses. There’s no way Israel will support him just because of the familiarity of his patterns, but there’s little hope that a new regime in Syria would be friendly to Israel either.

BG: What is the biggest threat for Israeli security in your eyes today?

AE: The greatest danger in the Middle East lies behind the huge changes in the Arab world. Iran is rushing for a nuclear bomb. With the Arab Spring, the West has forgotten about Iran and Iran has taken advantage of it.

They have more and more enriched uranium, almost enough to create three bombs. And they don’t have technical issues to overcome. The only thing that may stop Iran is a military attack and we have to hope that we have a different U.S. president with a different policy before Iran has the bomb.


To reach Benjamin Gottlieb, click here.

Follow him on Twitter @benjamin_max.

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