Egypt and Israel Send a Message to Turkey, and to the U.S.

On Sunday, Tarek el-Molla, Egypt’s minister of petroleum and mineral resources, paid an official visit to Israel—the first visit from an Egyptian minister since 2016. Molla also met with Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah. Lazar Berman comments:

Israel and Egypt agreed Sunday to link up Israel’s Leviathan natural-gas field with Egyptian liquid-natural-gas facilities through an underwater pipeline, from which the gas can be exported to European markets.

Analysts say that one of the key purposes of the meetings—beyond the energy discussions—was to send a message to Turkey, and its president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. For the better part of a decade, Turkey has been engaged in a bitter rivalry with Egypt that began when Erdogan backed the Muslim Brotherhood after the group was ousted from power in Cairo.

In the Mediterranean, Egypt has aligned itself with Greece and Cyprus, which accuse Turkey of illegally drilling for natural gas in their exclusive economic zones. Together with Israel, the countries formed the EastMed Gas Forum, headquartered in Cairo, and have conducted joint military exercises.

The visit was also meant to send a message to the Biden administration. Egypt anticipates increased pressure from the U.S. government over its human-rights record. . . . The more Egypt can present itself as a source of stability and cooperation in the region, the logic goes, the less [such] pressure it will face from the U.S.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Egypt, Israel diplomacy, Israeli gas, Turkey, US-Israel relations

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship