Israel fearful of ties over Egypt protests

Israel seems to be fearful as protests against President Hosni Mubarak's rule in Egypt which signed a peace treaty with Arab country more than 30 years ago.

Israel fearful of ties over Egypt protests


Israel is watching events in Egypt with vigilance Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet on Sunday, Israel's first official comment on the unrest in its neighbour.

Israel seems to be fearful as protests against President Hosni Mubarak's rule in Egypt which signed a peace treaty with Arab country more than 30 years ago.

"We are following with vigilance the events in Egypt and in our region ... at this time we must show responsibility and restraint and maximum consideration," Netanyahu told his cabinet, in his first public response since the protests began.

Netanyahu said he had spoken to U.S. President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and to decision-makers in Israel. He urged ministers to refrain from further comment.

He said he sought to "ensure that these relations will continue to exist".

"Our man"

Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a treaty with Israel, in 1979, and which paved the way for a treaty with Jordan in 1994, despite the fact that Israel has still occupying Palestinian territories.

Mubarak has served as an intermediary between Israel and the Palestinians.

Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, a former defence minister who has met Mubarak frequently, said he was saddened by the prospect of his removal, calling him "our most important man in the Middle East". He said Mubarak seemed fine in a weekend telephone chat.

Shaul Mofaz, another former defence chief who chairs an important parliamentary panel on security, said a main Israeli concern was the possibility that instability could bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power.

With political changes in Lebanon which have strengthened the Hezbollah movement, these developments could present Israel with "a big strategic challenge". Mofaz told Army Radio.

Some officials hope that Mubarak might survive, pointing the lack of a clear opposition leader, and were encouraged that Omar Suleiman was appointed vice president, an intelligence chief with whom Israel has had good ties.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told a Reuters reporter: "There are assessments that Mubarak may overcome efforts to overthrow him and calm the atmosphere."

While bringing home family members of diplomats stationed in Cairo on Saturday, Israel has left its ambassador in place to conduct business from an official residence, officials said.



Agencies

Last Mod: 30 Ocak 2011, 14:44
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