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Israeli President Shimon Peres Shimon Peres
photo by Rhonda Spivak


Alexandria Synagogue


Rev Majid El-Shafi

 
El-al to Stop Flights to Cairo, first time since Israel-Egypt Peace treaty

by Rhonda Spivak, September 21, 2012

If you want to get a taste of just how much Egyptian-Israeli relations have really deteriorated, look to the skies. Israelis are clearly too afraid to visit Cairo.

For the first time since the Israel-Egypt peace treaty was signed, El Al has indicated that it is about to stop its weekly flight from Tel Aviv to Cairo due to the enormous operational costs and a shortage of passengers.

As reported in the Times of Israel ,The Israeli airline’s CEO Eliezer Shkedi wrote in a letter to Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman that maintaining the flights involves enormous operational and security resources that cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

"In the absence of a business justification, and in light of the financial resources involved in providing this service, El Al is unable to continue to bear the burden these heavy costs and therefore our intention is to end the service to Cairo immediately," Shkedi wrote.

El Al has operated a weekly flight between Tel Aviv and Cairo for over 30 years, since the signing of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. However, following the ouster of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak a year and a half ago, it reduced the service to a bare minimum as fewer and fewer people are traveling the route.

Ma'ariv reported that officials fear that if El Al ceases its flights, they may not be returned for a very long time, similar to the situation of the Israeli embassy in Cairo which still has not opened after it was attacked by an Egyptian mob last year.

According to a source which spoke to Ma'ariv, the Israeli Embassy has not been able to re-open in Cairo since they are unable to find a commercial landlord that is willing to rent to them space for offices.
http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART2/403/706.html?hp=16&cat=666&loc=13

According to the Times of Israel, Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Levanon has said that Israel has proposed a number of alternative offices in Cairo, but the Egyptians are stalling in re-opening the embassy.

"The Muslim Brotherhood is simply not interested in normalization," Levanon told The Times of Israel.

Shkedi suggested that if the Israeli Foreign Ministry is interested in maintaining the flight service to Cairo, the government will need to give significant financial resources required to continue flights.

A Jerusalem official told Israeli Army Radio that keeping the route operating had diplomatic importance and that it was in Israel’s interest to do so.

Levanon told the Times of Israel that, today, aside from the very bare minimum of diplomatic relations, the peace accords between Israel and Egypt are "empty." He says that cultural exchanges pursuant to the peace accords are non-existent, and Egyptian visitors to the Israeli Embassy or the Israeli Academic Center in Cairo are questioned by the intelligence services.

He summed up the situation by saying, "With Mubarak, at least, we always had an open door. Now, we don’t."

Regarding the uncertain future of the treaty with Egypt, read the Egypt Independent "Amending Treaty with Israel A Matter of Time" (Sept 19)
http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/amending-treaty-israel-matter-time-says-presidential-adviser

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi himself won't even utter the word "Israel" since he has been elected. It's too taboo for him. In August Morsi sent a letter to “Shimon Perez,” thanking Peres for his Ramadan good wishes, and said positive things about the need for regional security and stability, including for the Israeli people. But then hours after news of the letter spread, Morsi’s office denied that he’d been corresponding with Peres at all: http://www.timesofisrael.com/return-to-sender-mohammed-egypt-letter-president-peres-israel/.

I must say that I, for one, have not been surprised by the election of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or the course of events ever since I interviewed  Rev. Majed el-Shafie, an Egyptian human rights advocate who essentially predicted what would happen following the overthrow of Mubarak in  February 2012. The article I wrote then which  appeared in the Jerusalem Post on Monday Feb. 14: http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=208104, is worth reprinting now so readers can be reminded of  just how clearly some analysts, unlike the Obama administration, were able to foresee what was going to happen. 

HEAD OF EGYPT HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP FEARS BROTHERHOOD TAKEOVER

by Rhonda Spivak, February 14, 2012

Rev. Majed el-Shafie, an Egyptian Muslim who converted to Christianity and was tortured and condemned to death, fears that the current upheaval in Egypt will strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood.

Shafie is alive today because he managed to escape Egypt and get to Israel by driving a jet-ski from Taba in Sinai to Eilat in 1998.

Rev. Shafie, who was eventually given political asylum in Canada and now lives in Toronto, is the president and founder of the largest human rights organization monitoring events in Egypt, known as One Free World International, El-Shafie Ministries.

His organization, which monitors violations in Egypt and other Arab states against the Christian minority, has 24,000 people in Egypt alone updating him on the situation on the ground there.

“We have people all throughout Egypt who are informants letting us know what is really going on there.

Many of these people are volunteers who do this because they believe in it. But others are Egyptians, including some who work in the police and the army, who take bribes to be an informant. That is how we do it.”

According to Shafie, “the Muslim Brotherhood has used the demonstrations in Egypt to advance its agenda. They are going street to street, door to door asking people to go out to demonstrate... They want a hand in the new government. They are being more aggressive, more active, are coming out in full power.”

Shafie says that the Muslim Brotherhood is popular with the poor, illiterate people of Egypt “because they provide the basic food and necessities to them... The Muslim Brotherhood is very wealthy. They own supermarkets in Egypt and they get funds from countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.”

He believes that if elections are held in Egypt in the near futu

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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