The assassination of Hamas military wing commander Ahmed Jabari on Wednesday places a difficult dilemma before Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a prominent Muslim Brotherhood member. Will he agree with his party and exploit the assassination to deteriorate or suspend relations with Israel, or will he understand where the limit is, given the country's internal needs and pending colossal reconstruction? Morsi knows full well that peace has a price, but that tearing up existing agreements also comes with a cost.
Anti-Israel rhetoric from the Freedom and Justice Party, founded by the Muslim Brotherhood and currently in power, was not born during the last round of skirmishes between Hamas and Israel, nor was the idea to eliminate Jabari. The party accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday of leading the escalations because of the upcoming elections. At the same time, the party is calling for a reassessment of the peace process.
Morsi's party sent a message to Israel on Wednesday, but also sent a message to Morsi: "Cairo will no longer allow the Palestinians to be attacked by Israel as before," meaning during ousted President Hosni Mubarak's era. "Things have changed in the Arab world, especially in Egypt," the Brotherhood added.
Meanwhile, Egypt recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv and summoned the Israeli ambassador to Egypt to meet on Thursday. We've seen this before, even during the friendly Mubarak era. Morsi also called on his representative to the U.N. to request an emergency meeting of the Security Council, while also convening an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers.
These steps were to be expected. They don't placate Morsi's party and certainly not Hamas, which hopes that Cairo will use the assassination as a way to show the world just how Egypt has really changed. Morsi will likely deal with severe pressure. Should he cause the deterioration of relations with Israel or, perhaps, take on the role of mediator "fitting" for an Egyptian president?
Many in Egypt who oppose the policy of targeted assassinations will permit themselves this "prohibited" behavior if they can apply the policy to the assassination of the Israel-Egypt peace agreement.