Worry in Israel, joy in Gaza after Mubarak

World leaders hailed Hosni Mubarak's decision to step down, Israel said it hopes Mubarak's resignation would not bring any change to relations with Cairo.

Worry in Israel, joy in Gaza after Mubarak

World leaders hailed Hosni Mubarak's decision on Friday to step down as Egyptian president after 30 years in power, saying they shared the joy of Egyptians and hoped the transition to democracy would be peaceful.

"Today is a day of great joy," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a news conference. "We are all witness to historic change. I share the joy of people on the streets of Egypt."

The most eagerly anticipated reaction was expected from Washington, where President Barack Obama was due to make an address later on Friday. The White House said he watched scenes from Cairo on TV after being told Mubarak stepped down.

Vice President Joe Biden called it a "pivotal" moment in the history of Egypt and the Middle East.

From Europe there were also notes of caution directed at Egypt's new military rulers.

"It is important now that the dialogue is accelerated, leading to a broad-based government which will respect the aspirations of, and deliver stability for, the Egyptian people," European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron said: "What has happened today should only be the first step. Those who now run Egypt have a duty to reflect the wishes of the Egyptian people and in particular there really must be a move to civilian and democratic rule."

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Egypt should now hold free and fair elections.

Switzerland said it was freezing assets potentially belonging to Mubarak and his associates.

"White revolution"

A senior Israeli official said Israel hoped Mubarak's resignation would not bring any change to relations with Cairo.

Officials in Israel have expressed worry that Mubarak's successors might distance themselves from the peace treaty between the two countries, one of the cornerstones of Middle Eastern diplomacy but unpopular with many Egyptians.

"It's too early to foresee how (the resignation) will affect things," the official said. "We hope that the change to democracy in Egypt will happen without violence and that the peace accord will remain."

In Gaza, the Palestinian enclave that has been jointly blockaded by Israel and Mubarak's Egypt, residents let off fireworks and fired guns into the air in celebration.

Sami Abu Zuhri, spokesman for Hamas called on Egypt's new leaders to lift the blockade.

"The resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is the beginning of the victory of the Egyptian revolution," he said. "Such a victory was the result of the sacrifices and the steadfastness of the Egyptian people."

Germany's Merkel also called on Egypt to respect the treaty with Israel and said those now in charge should ensure that developments were "irreversible and peaceful".

Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab league and himself an Egyptian, described the popular revolt as a "white revolution" that would provide an opportunity. He said he would work to help build national consensus in his homeland.

Yemen, Bahrain supports Egypt's choice

Within the wider Arab world, the royal council of the Emir of Qatar called the resignation "a positive, important step towards the Egyptian people's aspirations of achieving democracy and reform and a life of dignity". The United Arab Emirates expressed confidence in Egypt's new military rulers.

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq said: "I say this is the destiny of anyone who stands against the will of his people. We hope that the Egyptian people ensure a smooth, peaceful and organised transfer of power in this critical time."

Elsewhere, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: "We hope the latest developments will help restore stability and normal functioning of all power structures. We hope that not only the government but also the opposition will show willingness to stabilise the situation."

Yemen said on Saturday it respected the choice of the Egyptian people, whose mass protests forced the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak on Friday, and would support them in their search for progress and development.

Against a background of spreading anti-government protests in Yemen itself, the official news agency Saba said the government was confident Egypt's Higher Military Council would be able to manage the country's affairs in the transition period.

Saba, quoting an official source, said Yemen was keen to strengthen relations and would support the Egyptian people "in everything that would bring them stability, progress and development."

Yemenis across the country celebrated the fall of Mubarak on Friday.

Bahrain respects the choice of the Egyptian people, the pro-government Al Watan newspaper quoted a government statement as saying on Saturday, a day after mass protests in Egypt forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign.

The island kingdom said it is confident in the ability of the Egyptian Higher Military Council to establish security and stability, the paper reported.

Bahrain also said it was confident of "the continuation of Egypt's leading role in the common Arab work and defending the interests of the (Arab) nation" and said it was interested in developing its relationship with Egypt, Al Watan said.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 12 Şubat 2011, 13:13

Muhammed Öylek