No wonder that [Defense Ministry security and diplomacy chief] Amos Gilad got carried away. Israel’s relations with Egypt ever since the Muslim Brotherhood takeover have been so frustrating, so disappointing, that even Gilad lost control for a moment.
Despite the diplomatic discomfort involved, no one in the Israeli Defense establishment denies that Gilad spoke the truth. If the man who symbolizes the relations between Israel and Egypt shows public signs of despair, then evidently, the situation is really on the verge of collapse.
We can assume that if Amos Gilad publicly called the Egyptian government “a terrible dictatorship,” then similar (if not more severe) terms must have been uttered in internal discussions with the defense minister. Gilad is not only a very cautious person; he's also the man who holds his finger in the dike to halt the worsening of relations with Egypt. Even in the current period of frosty [diplomatic] relations and harsh problems in Sinai, Gilad is the one who insists on keeping the last spark alive at almost any price. Therefore, everyone was so surprised by his words.
By us, such titles as “terrible dictatorship” are affixed to countries such as North Sudan, Iran and Syria. The difference is that ostensibly, Egypt held democratic elections. It is true that Morsi acts as an autocrat, a president without a constitution and with a paralyzed parliament, and he holds as much power as Mubarak did. But it is even truer to describe his government as one big mess. At the center of the havoc is the Muslim Brotherhood that is gradually taking control of the governmental institutions and power centers — a phenomenon that repeats itself in all the countries that experienced the Arab Spring.
Israel is frustrated at the fact that Morsi defiantly demonstrates that he will not meet with the Israelis. Certainly not with the Israeli leadership. He even finds it hard to say the word “Israel.” Now he is riding on the military wave, having his picture taken, granting interviews and making appearances at all the large military maneuvers. The messages he transmits from there are not of peace and tranquility.
On the other hand, he did send an ambassador here. True, it’s a fig leaf, but nevertheless — diplomatic relations. There are also work relations with high-level officials in the Egyptian security forces and the Egyptian army. A high-placed Egyptian officer visited Israel a few weeks ago, and official Israeli sources still go to Egypt. But not only are these secret meetings — they are embarrassing. The Egyptians go to great pains to hide their Israeli guests and treat them like thieves in the night.
Once upon a time, when Gilad would go to Egypt, he would meet with Mubarak. Today, he only gets to meet with low-level bureaucrats. It's insulting, and does not bode well for the future.
Now we have to see how the Egyptians will react: will they exploit Gilad’s words to muddy the relations even more? Another unnecessary test for the poor relations between the countries.