Dr. Ayman Nur, a secular, liberal Egyptian who apparently sees himself as a potential leader of the country if it becomes a democracy, says the peace treaty with Israel is over. This from the liberal and secular wing of Egyptian society.
I'm not of the camp that suggests we need to assume Israel will be at war with Egypt anytime soon. Rather on the contrary. I think Israel won't be at war with Egypt anytime soon, though I'm less sanguine about the stability we've enjoyed these past 35 years. An Egyptian government could easily stir up trouble with measures that are far less severe than outright war. The significance lies elsewhere. Back in 1978 Israel reached an agreement that largely addressed all of Egypt's demands. Evey inch of territory taken in 1967 was returned. Some 20 Israeli settlements were dismantled. True, Egypt had to accept the demilitarization of the Sinai, but the only reason they ever had to have an army there was to face Israel; other than that there's no reason for having military forces there. And of course, 35 years of peace haven't done any harm to Egypt, either, what with significant American aid, and even the simple lack of war and everything that goes with it. Peace remains an Egyptian strategic need, too, not only an Israeli one.
Yet in spite of all this it's quite clear to everyone that a new Egyptian government might renege on the treaty, and almost certainly would be less friendly to Israel than the very icy friendship we've had since 1978. Some people - the Economist can plausibly represent the world media on this topic - are convinced the popular Egyptian enmity is because Israel hasn't yet made peace with the Palestinians. This causes so much aggravation, we're expected to understand, that it could easily explain why Egyptians might be willing to sustain strategic setbacks of its own, if the Israelis don't rectify it. As if it's the natural way of the world that societies willingly inflict suffering on themselves out of mere solidarity.
The other explanation, that Egyptian enmity is not about Ariel and Maale Adumim, but rather is the result of Jewish sovereignty in the middle of the Arab world, is not mentioned. If any reader can demonstrate otherwise, I encourage them to do so: please show me links to mainstream Western media reports which tell about how broad masses of Arabs hate Israel for it's being there, not to mention that they hate Jews with intensity. The thing with reality is that it doesn't need to be reported on to be true. The New York times can studiously look away from it for as long as it chooses, and still it will be there. (The Guardian, of course, actively disseminates antisemitism). If the reality is that tens of millions of Arabs hate Israel for being a Jewish state, the rise of democracy will only make things worse. I'm a great fan of democracy, and wish it on the Arabs too, but don't see any advantage in pretending things aren't as they are.
The conundrum, therefore, is this: If large numbers of Arabs hate Jews and cannot accept a Jewish state in their midst, Israel cannot make peace with them. It may be able to make peace with autocratic Arab governments, but the moment they get washed away in this or a future wave of democratization, the peace will be worthless. If, on the other hand, Israel insists on making peace only with democratic Arab regimes, there aren't many around at the moment, and refusing to deal with the autocrats will be castigated as refusing to make peace.