Aaron David Miller: 'But there's no doubt that a new Egyptian government and president, more responsive to public opinion - indeed, legitimized by the public in free elections - will be, by necessity or inclination, far more critical of Israeli actions and policies and far less likely to give Israel the benefit of any doubts. Will the new Egyptian leadership monitor smuggling across the Egypt-Gaza border as carefully? Will it be more supportive of Hamas and less understanding of Israeli concerns about Hamas's acquisition of rockets and missiles? And how will a newly elected Egyptian president interact with an Israeli prime minister? (Mubarak met regularly with Netanyahu; it's hard to imagine a new Egyptian leader doing so without demanding concessions for Palestinians or progress in the peace negotiations.)
Take a tour of the neighborhood through Israeli eyes, and you'll understand why such worries have taken on new urgency. To the north in Lebanon, Hezbollah is now the dominant political force, reequipped with thousands of rockets and backed by Syria and Iran. To the east there's Jordan, with whom Israel also has a peace treaty and whose government was just changed after protests sparked by the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt. On the West Bank and Gaza, there's the Palestinian national movement, which thanks to the Hamas-Fatah split is a veritable Noah's Ark with two of everything - prime ministers, security services, constitutions and governments. And then there's Iran, whose determination to acquire nuclear weapons may well force Israel one day to live under the shadow of an Islamic bomb.
Israel, nuclear weapons or not, and despite its shortsighted and harmful settlement policies, must be understood as a remarkable country living on the knife's edge. The old adage that Israelis fight the Arabs during the day and win but fight the Nazis at night and lose may be dated, but it still reflects fundamental and enduring security concerns as well as the dark side of Jewish history - both of which make Israelis worry for a living.
The inevitable hardening of Egyptian attitudes will not just constitute an Israeli problem but will pose significant concerns for Israel's major ally: the United States. The old devil's bargain in which Washington relied on Cairo for support in its war and peacemaking policies, in exchange for giving Egypt a pass on how it is governed, is probably dead. And perhaps it's just as well. The Egyptian people deserve a better future, and that deal didn't produce a peaceful, stable and secure Middle East, anyway - just look around.'