Will Israel rue the day Morsi left town?

Will Israel rue the day Morsi left town?

Stephen is the Jewish News' Foreign Editor

It was the coup they counted down to, writes Stephen Oryszczuk.

Bizarre events in Egypt have left the world – not to mention Mohamed Morsi – dazed and confused.

TV’s have been beaming images of crowds cheering the military overthrow of a democratically elected leader, a year after hundreds died overthrowing a commander-turned-dictator.

Pinch yourself, by all means, but yes – this is really happening.

How Israel analyses all this is anyone’s guess, but here, the community’s first reaction was one of relief.

Few in the Jewish world ever trusted the Muslim Brotherhood to be the ‘mild’ Islamists they purported to be. Few believed those who pointed to Turkey and said: ‘Look, it can work.’ And few ever thought that Israel’s most important relationship would come through anything other than the Egyptian army. We assume it was with no great sadness that Israel bid farewell to Morsi and Co.

But things are never that black and white, especially in the Middle East, and indeed, the same applies here. Morsi had actually proved himself to be quite the pragmatist. He had resisted the demands of the street to rip up the 1979 Peace Treaty. He had been pressuring Hamas into months of quiet after last November’s conflict. And – perhaps most memorably – he had enforced the closure of lucrative arms channels by emptying tonnes of sewage into Gaza’s tunnels. None of this is popular stuff for an Islamist president to do.

He had also, lest we forget, been voted in. His claims – that he was fairly elected and that he’d had nowhere near enough time to sort all the country’s problems – evoke a strained element of sympathy. In a democracy, the people vote you out if you’re not performing. The army should not be giving you 48 hours notice because those who lost the election are upset.

Will Israel rue the day? It’s highly unlikely. Morsi was no angel, despite the aforementioned. He seemed set on embarrassing Israel in international forums such as the United Nations, and – given time – may well have sought to coax the Jewish state into an Islamist snare.

But all that is academic. Morsi is no more, the army is back and the problems of yesterday remain ever-present today.

A languishing economy, stratospheric youth unemployment and an over-reliance on American aid will all be items on the newcomer’s agenda, just as they were Mr Morsi’s.

And whilst we haven’t seen the last of the Muslim Brotherhood, they’re back in their Egyptian box for the time being.

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