JERUSALEM — The Israeli government is pressing its efforts to convince the United States and the European Union to support the military-backed government in Egypt.
The New York Times reported late Sunday that Israeli ambassadors in Washington and the European capitals will lobby foreign ministers, and that Israeli leaders will urge diplomats to see the Israeli viewpoint that the Egyptian military will prevent a further deterioration of the situation in Cairo.
The newspaper cited an unnamed “senior Israeli official involved in the effort.”
“If you insist on big principles, then you will miss the essential — the essential being putting Egypt back on track at whatever cost,” the official told the Times. “First, save what you can, and then deal with democracy and freedom and so on. At this point it’s army or anarchy.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered government officials to refrain from publicly discussing the situation in Egypt.
Israel reportedly has been lobbying American officials hard to sustain the annual $1.5 billion in U.S. aid to Egypt. President Obama has threatened to withhold the aid over a violent government crackdown on demonstrations in support of ousted President Mohamed Morsi that has resulted in more than 800 deaths since last week.
Last week, Obama canceled a planned joint military exercise with Egypt over the bloodshed.
Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led the military coup that ousted Morsi, developed close ties with Israel when he headed Egypt’s military intelligence, according to the Times, and has remained in close contact with Israel throughout the recent violence and bloodshed.