By Julie Webb-Pullman – Gaza
The hasty and undignified departure of Israeli embassy staff from Cairo following popular protests on Friday (September 09) underscores the highly-tenuous state of Israeli-Egyptian relations, as well as the strength and determination of the Egyptian people.
Since the overthrow of Israeli-US stalwart Mubarak, there have been increasing demands to revise Israeli-Egyptian relations, based on the perception that Israel has never honored the 1978 Camp David accords which govern them.
Failure to Honor Camp David
The preamble for these Accords states “The agreed basis for a peaceful settlement of the conflict between Israel and its neighbours is United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, in all its parts,” and the Framework, that “the parties are determined to reach a just, comprehensive, and durable settlement of the Middle East conflict through the conclusion of peace treaties based on Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 in all their parts.” (1)
These Security Council resolutions require Israel to withdraw from all territories it occupied during the 1967 invasions, and that Israel respect and acknowledge “the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.” (2)
Israel has not only failed to withdraw to pre-1967 borders, as decided by the Security Council, but has continued expanding its settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories through the forced eviction of Palestinians from their homes and lands, and “subjected the people of Gaza to sustained and extreme forms of collective punishment… attacked Lebanese villages and Beirut neighborhoods mercilessly in 2006, launched a massive campaign against a defenseless Gaza at the end of 2008, and then shocked world opinion with its violence against the Mavi Marmara during its nighttime attack in 2010,” according to Richard Falk. (3)
These flagrant breaches of the basis of The Camp David Accords are considered to render them null and void in the eyes of many Egyptians. The killing by Israeli Defence Forces of five members of the Egyptian security forces last month, which, like the Mavi Marmara deaths, Israel refuses to apologise for, have further inflamed anti-Israeli sentiment.
The delight with which the news of Turkey’s expulsion of Israeli diplomats, the cutting of military ties, and the stepping up a Turkish naval presence in the Mediterranean were greeted throughout the Arab world, but especially in Gaza, will only increase with this popular ouster of Israeli diplomats from Cairo. With the Turkish actions a government, not just civil society, took a principled stand based on, and in accordance with, international law, and took concrete measures to hold Israel accountable for its violations.
The Egyptian people have joined them, sending a very loud and a very clear message – to Tel Aviv, to the rest of the Arab world, to the entire international community – and especially to the United Nations.
The days of Israel flouting international law with impunity are over. If Israel wishes to live in peace and security in the ‘new’ environment, its policies and practice towards its neighbors must change. The basis, however, will remain the same – United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 in all their parts.
The latest lesson from Cairo is clear – if governments won’t act to enforce international law and treaties based upon them, the people will.
– Julie Webb-Pullman is a New Zealand activist and writer currently based in Gaza. She has written on social and political justice issues for New Zealand Independent News website SCOOP since 2003, as well as for websites in Australia, Canada, the US, and Latin America, and participated in several human rights observation missions. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.
(1) Jimmy Carter Library. Documents.
(2) UN resolutions. Article 1 (i) and 1 (ii)
(3) Richard Falk. Aljazeera English.