Israel is "troubled" by the entry of Egyptian tanks into northern Sinai without coordination with Israel, a violation of the 33-year-old peace treaty between the two countries, and has asked Egypt to withdraw them, an Israeli government official said Tuesday. Israel seeks to encourage Egypt's efforts to restore order in the increasingly chaotic Sinai Peninsula but without posing a threat to its own security.
With Egyptian forces in Sinai strictly limited by the military appendix of the peace treaty, the vast desert area has until now served as a demilitarized buffer zone. But Egypt has long chafed at the restrictions. "It is clear to everyone that the Egyptians - whether they succeed in dealing with the terror in Sinai or not - at some point are going to ask to open the military appendix," Alex Fishman, a military affairs analyst, wrote Tuesday in Yediot Aharonot. "The meaning of this is that the demilitarization of Sinai will be eroded, which is one of the most important anchors of the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt."
"Israel also looks at the glass half-full," the Israeli government official said. "It welcomes the new Egyptian assertiveness."