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What Happens to Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty Now?

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MUBARAK

The mainstream media is full of commentators who say that they welcome the Egyptian revolution but are openly worried about what will happen to the Camp David peace treaty with Israel.

It is understandable that some Israelis and their friends are worried. After all, in the election following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (who negotiated the Oslo agreement with Yasir Arafat) Binyamin Netanyahu came to power and proceeded to renege on Rabin's commitments.

In effect, the bullet that killed Rabin killed the Oslo agreement too, which was the assassin's intention.

The Egyptian experience was different. President Anwar Sadat, like Rabin, was assassinated for negotiating a peace agreement. But his successor, Hosni Mubarak, maintained the treaty for the next 30 years. Sadat's Egyptian assassins did not achieve their goal; Rabin's did.

So what now?

The peace treaty will stand because the last thing the Egyptian people want is war. They did not throw over the bonds of dictatorship to lose their sons in wars with Israel, as was the case until 1979.

But the nature of the peace will change. Under Hosni Mubarak and intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, Egypt did not challenge Israel's occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. It went along with the horrific invasion of Gaza in 2008-9 and the Gaza blockade. Every time Mubarak protested the treatment of Palestinians, the Israeli government and the lobby here sent a message to "shut up" or face a cut in U.S. aid.

Omar Suleiman himself was, according to a WikiLeaks cable, in constant contact with Israeli leaders with whom he worked to maintain a quiet occupation.

Those days are almost surely over. The new Egypt will not repudiate a peace treaty with Israel that has saved so many lives on both sides. But it will not be Israel's accomplice in maintaining the occupation either. It will tell the Netanyahu government that peace is a two-way street and that Egypt will no longer serve as Israel's enforcer.

That is why Palestinians and Israelis who oppose the deadly occupation are celebrating today with the Egyptian people. Mubarak and Suleiman's downfall means that the days of the occupation are numbered.