Forget everything you know. Forget everything about the dynamic of the peace process, about the Israeli-Arab conflict, indeed, about Israeli politics themselves. The events in Egypt, as they unfold, can mean very radical changes to the region in every single imaginable aspect. One way or another, Israel has become accustomed to the “cold peace” we have enjoyed with Egypt since Anwar El-Sadat and Menachem Begin signed the Camp David accord in 1978.
Hosni Mubarak has been a chilly, yet reliable presence in the region for 30 years. Even during the tense times of the Lebanon conflicts and the Intifadas, Egypt has maintained diplomatic relations with Israel, even in the face of popular criticism and condemnation. In short, Mubarak’s icy but steady approach is something Israel has take for granted for several decades.
Now everything is in flux, but one thing is for sure: nothing will be the same.
If a radical leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, such as Muhammad Badi’e, ends up maneuvering himself into power, Israel will have to, for the first time in over 30 years, face the prospect of a very powerful enemy on its southwestern border.
No more Taba vacations, no more discreet cooperation controlling border crossings with Gaza, and perhaps, there will even be open support for the Hamas regime. An outright hostile powerful neighbor that will make Hezbollah look like a walk in the park. Think a 1979 Iran scenario, but right on the border.
On the other hand, if a moderate, such as the former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency and 2005 Nobel Peace Price winner, Mohamed ElBaradei, finds himself in the Egyptian presidency, it could give Egypt a stature and reputation that may increase its influence as a peace broker in the region. Perhaps not good for Netanyahu, but overall a much better prospect for Israel.
The point, however, with revolutions is precisely how unpredictable they are. From Iran to Tianamen Square, to the Romanian revolution of 1989, uncertainty and confusion are the name of the game, and outcomes are hard to predict. The only thing for sure is, even if Mubarak manages to hold on to power, everything is about to change, so better hold onto your seats because this is going to be a bumpy ride.