Israel Elections
Given Egypt's size, influence and commitment to the peace process, it was no surprise that it was Ehud Barak's first port of call after formally taking power on 6 July.

Egypt's President Sadat was the first Arab leader to sign a treaty with Israel, at Camp David in 1978. In a matter of months, Sadat had turned his country - ten times the size of Israel, and the Arab world's centre of gravity - from Israel's most formidable enemy to its most valuable asset.

Arab neighbours branded Sadat a traitor and boycotted Egypt for a decade. But Sadat believed too much Egyptian blood had been spilt in the wars against Israel: Suez; the disaster of 1967 when Israel captured the Sinai in under six days; and the heroic re-crossing of the canal in October 1973.

The Gulf War and the peace process brought Egypt back into the Arab fold, and during the Netanyahu years, Cairo emerged as the strongest supporter of Palestinian aspirations and a stern critic of Israeli transgressions.

Now, if Mr Barak can persuade Egypt's leaders of his own commitment to peace, he will have secured an important bridge to a comprehensive peace settlement in the region.