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Egypt and the Second Palestinian Intifada

Policymaking with Multifaceted Commitments

Rami Ginat is Professor of Middle Eastern Studies and International Relations at the Department of Political Studies, Bar-Ilan University, Israel. He is the author of many books and articles on the modern Middle East.

Dr. Meir Noema is a lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Political Science & Communications, Open University, Israel. He received his Ph.D. from Bar-Ilan University and has published articles on Egyptian affairs.

With the outbreak of the Palestinian Intifadat al-Aqsa in September 2000 that followed the failure of the Camp David II summit, the chain of belligerent events took Egypt by surprise. Facing a dilemma in its search for an appropriate policy towards the Palestinian–Israeli escalation, this study argues that Egypt's policy towards the second Intifada may best be understood by scrutinizing several circles of reference that directly affected its policymaking process throughout the long years of the bloody Israeli–Palestinian conflict. These circles of reference comprise interests and calculations derived from Egyptian internal issues; regional factors – Egypt's role and position in the Arab world in general, and its relations with the Palestinians in particular; Egypt's relations with Israel; and its strategic ties with the United States. The growing strength and the expansion of the global Islamic terrorist network that challenges the stability of the present Arab regimes constitutes a lynchpin at every layer.

Egypt's foreign policy is based on Realpolitik, that is, on pragmatic and material factors rather than on ideological or moral considerations. Safeguarding its national interests is Egypt's prime goal. In this regard, Egypt considers the peace with Israel as a strategic national asset. For Mubarak's regime, the abrogation of the peace treaty with Israel has never been an option, even during the worst days of the Intifada. Mubarak has shown exemplary restraint throughout the conflict. Despite occasional harsh anti-Israeli statements aimed mainly at easing internal and external pressures, Mubarak's regime can, on the whole, be seen as a responsible and stabilizing factor vehemently striving to prevent regional escalation. This study is based primarily on Egyptian sources as well as interviews and conversations with senior members of the Al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies. It also draws on other primary and secondary sources in Arabic, Hebrew and English. The book is essential reading for all scholars involved and engaged with the Israel–Arab conflict.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-389-8
Hardback Price: £35.00 / $55.00
Release Date: May 2011
Page Extent / Format: 160 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: With cartoons and facsimilies


List of Illustrations

The sources

Part One Egyptian Interests and Considerations
1 Internal Egyptian Factors
2 The Regional and Inter-Arab Circle
3 Egyptian–Israeli Relations
4 US–Egyptian Relations

Part Two Egypt’s Foreign Policy during the Intifada
5 On the Eve of the Storm: The Camp David Summit
(July 2000) and its Results
6 The Volcanic Eruption: Egyptian Foreign Policy
Emphasizes the Regional-Arab Dimension
7 Oscillating between Two Poles: Egyptian Policy between the Sharm al-Shaykh Summit (16–17 October 2000) and the Cairo Summit (21–22 October 2000)
8 Defense vs. Attack: Confrontation between the
“Moderate” and the “Radical” Camps in the Arab Arena
9 Cracks in the Political–Strategic Triangle of Israel, Egypt and the USA
10 Changes in the “External Spheres of Interest” and
Their Repercussions on Egyptian Policy
11 A Warming in US–Egyptian Relations and its
Implications for the Egyptian Position
12 The Downgrading of Egypt’s Commitment to the
Arab Arena in Pursuit of More Balanced Relations
with the USA
13 Operation “Defensive Shield“ – The Israeli Reaction
to the Suicide Bombers
14 The Disengagement Plan
15 The Transitions from the Arab Framework to an
American–Israeli One


Appendix: Documents Related to the Palestinian Intifada


In their book, Ginat and Noema examined Egyptian newspapers and conducted interviews with different Egyptian researchers and scholars. These sources enabled the authors to present the reader with a comprehensive historical picture that is coherent and especially interesting. This research undoubtedly adds an important layer to the understanding of the Israeli–Palestinian-Arab relations.
Reviewed by Dr. Jacob Tovy, independent researcher, Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA)

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