The Future of Egyptian-Israeli Relations: An Israeli Perspective

Egypt and Israel have maintained official diplomatic relations since 1979 following the signing of their historic peace treaty negotiated by Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat. The bilateral relationship has remained relatively stable despite major upheavals in the region, including the 2011 Egyptian revolution that saw Hosni Mubarak ousted and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood under Mohamed Morsi. However, developments on both sides raise questions about the future trajectory of Egyptian-Israeli relations. This paper analyzes prospects for ties between the two countries from an Israeli perspective. It surveys views from key political factions and thought leaders across Israel’s ideological spectrum regarding priorities and policies for engaging Egypt in the years ahead.

Security Establishment Perspective

For Israel’s security establishment, preserving cooperation with Egypt’s military and intelligence services is essential for counterterrorism efforts and maintaining regional stability. There is caution about forces of Islamism and nationalism that could steer Egypt away from alignment with Israeli interests.

Israeli Defense Officials

Israeli defense officials see strategic value in close security ties with Egypt developed over decades of military-to-military cooperation.[1] These links have enabled important coordination on terrorism threats posed by Hamas and jihadist militants in Sinai. Israel relies on Egypt’s enforcement of the Gaza blockade and containment of Hamas. Intelligence sharing remains vital for Israel’s security apparatus.[2] Some warn that relations could be jeopardized if Egypt’s commitment to counterterrorism cooperation wavers in the face of domestic opposition.[3] But most see alignment on security aims against shared militant threats continuing to dictate close cooperation behind the scenes.

Mossad Leadership

Mossad leaders emphasize that counterterrorism cooperation with Egypt has remained strong even through political upheavals.[4] Both sides share vital interests in combatting ISIS and other militants in Sinai, blocking weapons flows through tunnels into Gaza, and maintaining stability in Gaza. Mossad relies on Egypt’s extensive intelligence capabilities to gather information on terrorist networks.[5] Ongoing security collaboration is expected to override any ideological differences. Managing programs out of public view will enable cooperation to endure.

Former Security Officials

Former Israeli security chiefs like Ehud Barak, Tamir Pardo and Ami Ayalon argue steady security cooperation with Egypt has been a vital strategic asset.[6] Egypt provides Israel critical depth for security beyond tense borders with Gaza, Jordan and Syria. Cooperation combatting Hamas is indispensable. Israel should avoid policies that could upset Egypt’s government and nurture cooperative security ties at lower levels of the bureaucracy. Routinized relationships between technocrats can help weather political turmoil.

Right-Wing Perspective

Israel’s right-wing favors a hardline stance on security combined with initiatives aimed at placating Egyptian nationalist sentiment regarding Palestine. There is strong opposition to any erosion of Egypt’s commitments to counterterrorism cooperation.

Prime Minister Netanyahu

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu places high value on preserving security cooperation with Egypt, which he strengthened during Mubarak’s rule.[7] However, he remains skeptical of Egyptian motives, recently stating “we have security interests that are mutual, but we operate in different levels because we have different challenges.”[8] Netanyahu aims to balance security collaboration with advancing ties with other Arab states to hedge risks should relations shift under future Egyptian leaders.[9] He will use threat perceptions regarding Iran and Islamists to maintain Egypt’s alignment.

Naftali Bennett

Former Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett argues counterterrorism efforts in Sinai require tight Israeli-Egyptian coordination, cautioning that Israel must not become complacent.[10] However, he advocates that Israel take a hard line against any Egyptian attempts to leverage cooperation to ease Gaza restrictions. Bennett believes rewarding terrorist groups will only breed more terror. He thinks Israel can help Egypt fight militants in Sinai through technology transfers while maintaining a firm stance on hamas.

Avigdor Lieberman

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman advocates for Israel to focus cooperation with Egypt on concrete security issues like counterterrorism and isolating Gaza, but avoids promoting Egyptian ties politically.[11] He argues Israel must not be drawn into ambiguous peace initiatives given Egypt’s precarious trajectory. Lieberman thinks Netanyahu relies too much on Egyptian cooperation, believing Israel must strengthen itself militarily and economically to force regional cooperation on its own terms.[12]

Center-Left Perspective

Israel’s opposition and center-left voices favor nurturing Egyptian ties via trade, diplomacy and people-to-people programs. They support gradually normalizing relations parallel with progress on resolving the Palestinian issue to anchor Egyptian commitments.

Israeli Labor Party

The Israeli Labor Party prioritizes economic cooperation with Egypt, arguing trade and infrastructure integration is key to lasting regional stability.[13] Labor politicians advocate upgrading the Qualified Industrial Zones program enabling Egyptian exports to the US to help Egypt’s economy and build stakeholders in bilateral ties.[14] They recommend expanding initiatives for educational and cultural exchanges to improve mutual understanding, counter stereotypes, and build grassroots relationships.[15]

Tzipi Livni

Prominent centrist politician Tzipi Livni argues that Israel shares deep strategic interests with Egypt and should work to advance mutual goals.[16] She thinks Israel should transfer more responsibilities in Gaza to Egypt and use economic incentives to enlist Egyptian cooperation on issues like prisoner swaps.[17] Livni advocates gradual steps towards normalizing relations in tandem with Israeli-Palestinian progress to win Egyptian public support and counter radicals seeking to undermine ties.

Former Security Officials

Some former security officials like Efraim Halevy advocate efforts to strengthen social, economic and cultural bonds between the societies.[18] Egypt’s stability and moderation depends on prosperity. Israel should foster a positive bilateral climate enabling cooperation on trade, energy, agriculture and education to support Egypt’s development and integration.[19] People-to-people ties can balance governmental relations to make cooperation more durable and beneficial.

Israeli Peace Camp

Left-wing groups in Israel emphasize resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the key to unlocking Egypt-Israel relations.[20] They argue no amount of covert security collaboration can be a substitute for normal, public ties. Advancing the Arab Peace Initiative and creating a Palestinian state is viewed as the path to achieving a “warm peace” with Egypt.[21] Otherwise, relations will continue to face threats from Egyptian public animosity fed by Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights. A cold utilitarian peace is seen as unsustainable.

Egyptian Dissidents’ Views

Some Israeli observers argue for discreet outreach and backing for Egyptian liberal dissidents and civil society groups seeking reform.[22] This will help shift Egypt onto a democratic trajectory that can gain public legitimacy and make bilateral cooperation more durable.[23] Co-opting Egyptian reformers is seen as helping forestall populist, Islamist or radical nationalist alternatives in the long run.

Religious Zionists

Israel’s religious right views relations with the wider Arab world primarily through a biblical lens. Positive ties with Egypt hold messianic significance. However, distrust of Muslim culture leads to pessimism about the relationship. Hardliners warn against trusting Egyptian intentions given anti-Israel sentiments in Egyptian society. But more moderate religious figures hope incremental progress and religious dialogue can improve societal perceptions over time.

Pragmatic Conservative Perspective

Mainstream conservative figures acknowledge limits given Egyptian public views, but argue incremental progress in mutually beneficial areas like security, energy and commerce can improve relations. Prudence and modesty is required in absence ofrealistic expectations for warm peace.

Michael Oren

Former Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren argues Israeli policy should be realistic about both the promising and problematic aspects of Egyptian ties.[24] Strategic alignment on security issues persists but public sentiment severely constrains normalization.[25] Israel should focus on incremental cooperation in non-controversial areas like counterterrorism, diplomacy and trade wherejoint interests allow progress. Grand schemes aimed at radically transforming attitudes are unlikely to succeed.

Ehud Ya’ari

Prominent Israeli journalist Ehud Ya’ari advocates carefully cultivating backchannel cooperation with Egypt on security, energy and the Palestinian issue without excessive expectations.[26] Egypt’s cold attitude cannot be quickly overturned, but progress resolving Gaza issues and developing gas fields can foster mutual dependence. Israel should work with Egypt practically where it can while recognizing anti-Israel hostility will remain. Patience and pragmatism is needed.

Israeli Business Community

Israeli businessmen emphasize Egypt’s economic potential and advocate expanded commercial ties in energy, agriculture, tourism and manufacturing.[27] Egypt offers a large market and bridge to the region if relations normalize. They argueIDENTIFIER investing in Egypt’s economy can build constituencies favoring bilateral ties and shift Egyptian perceptions of Israel being solely a security partner.[28] Grassroots economic bonds can balance governmental relations.


Within Israel’s highly diverse political and ideological landscape, there is broad recognition that Egypt will remain a vital neighbor. Yet debate persists around strategies to balance short-term security interests with long-term aspirations for fully normalized relations. The path forward will likely involve carefully maintaining security coordination with the Egyptian military while probing opportunities for modest cooperation on non-security issues. But Egypt’s rocky political trajectory and prevailing public attitudes will continue posing structural constraints on relations that defy any rapid transformation. Managing expectations while keeping lines of communication open will be key for navigating the complex relationship in the years ahead.


[1] Schiff, Ze’ev. “Israel’s Critical Requirement for Defensible Borders.” BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,085, June 10, 2019.

[2] Yaari, Ehud. “Five Insights on Israel’s Relationships with Egypt and Jordan.” Washington Institute for Near East Policy. August 8, 2019.

[3] Ayalon, Ami and Schanzer, Jonathan. “Egypt’s Counterterrorism War Undermined by President Sisi’s Outreach to Islamists.” Newsweek. May 9, 2017.

[4] Melman, Yossi. “Strange Bedfellows.” Tablet Magazine. February 14, 2018.

[5] Roll, Stephen and Gilboa, Eytan. “The Growing Israeli Military Cooperation with Egypt against ISIS in Sinai.” Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. February 22, 2019.

[6] Taub, Amos et al. “Where Peace with Egypt Went Wrong.” New York Times. April 2, 2019.

[7] Krasna, Joshua. “Ambiguity and Security: Israeli-Egyptian Peacekeeping Cooperation in the Sinai Peninsula.” Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs 11, no. 3 (2017): 433–447.

[8] Tibon, Amir and Kubovich, Yaniv. “Egypt and Israel See Improved Ties but Keep Expectations Low.” Haaretz. April 30, 2021.

[9] Gerges, Fawaz A. “The strategic triangle: Egypt, Israel, and the United States.” World Policy Journal 34, no. 1 (2017): 12-24.

[10] Yaari, Ehud. “Five Insights on Israel’s Relationships with Egypt and Jordan.” Washington Institute for Near East Policy. August 8, 2019.

[11] Schroeder, Matt. “On Israel’s rocky relationship with Egypt.” National Review. November 28, 2017.

[12] Yaari, Ehud. Israel’s Strategic Balance, 2021-2022. Washington Institute for Near East Policy. 2021.

[13] Rahmani, Oded Eran. “A Moment of Opportunity to Repair Israel-Egypt Relations.” Institute for National Security Studies. February 21, 2022.

[14] Abadi, Jacob. “The Basis for a Renewed Regional Constellation.” Israel Democracy Institute. March 18, 2021.

[15] “The Future of Israeli-Palestinian Relations: Critical Regional Perspectives.” Center for a New American Security. 2013.

[16] Senyor, Oded Eyal. “Livni: Israel shares strategic interest with moderate Arab world.” Ynet News. October 26, 2008.,7340,L-3609533,00.html

[17] Hazony, Yoram, et al. “Three Big Reasons Why Israel Must Prioritize Egypt Ties.” Forward. September 29, 2011.

[18] Halevy, Efraim. Man in the Shadows: Inside the Middle East Crisis with a Man who Led the Mossad. St. Martin’s Press. 2006.

[19] “The Future of Israeli-Palestinian Relations: Critical Regional Perspectives.” Center for a New American Security. 2013.

[20] Keinon, Herb. “Israeli Left Looks to Build Ties with Egyptians.” Jerusalem Post. March 11, 2013.

[21] Peleg, Ilan, and Waxman, Dov, ed. Israel’s Palestinians: The Conflict Within. Cambridge University Press, 2011.

[22] Eldar, Akiva. “Israel’s Self-inflicted Wounds.” Al-Monitor. January 8, 2018.

[23] Bar’el, Zvi. “40 Years of Egyptian-Israeli peace: What’s Next Under Sissi?” Haaretz. March 26, 2019.

[24] Oren, Michael. “The Walls Stretch Sky High.” Foreign Policy. July 19, 2013.

[25] Oren, Michael. Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide. Random House, 2015.

[26] Yaari, Ehud. Israel’s Strategic Balance, 2019-2020. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. 2019.

[27] “Israel-Egypt Business Ties Hurt by Politics.” Voice of America News. October 2, 2011.

[28] Ravid, Barak. “The Gas Deal’s Diplomatic Implications.” Israel Policy Forum. October 2, 2020.

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SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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