Politics & Policy

Israel Stresses Egyptian Security

Israel seems to prefer Mubarak to other likely possibilities: 

 

Israel has called on the United States and Europe to curb their criticism of president Hosni Mubarak “in a bid to preserve stability in Egypt” and the wider Middle East, an Israeli newspaper reports.The Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Monday that the foreign ministry, in an urgent special cable, instructed its ambassadors to key countries, to “stress … the importance of Egypt’s stability”.Increasingly, president Mubarak has been isolated by swift and at times harsh criticism from Western leaders whocalled for reform. It is unclear how angry Egyptians will interpret Israel’s apparent support for their government.The protests in Egypt have reportedly thrown the Israeli government into turmoil, with military officials holding lengthy strategy sessions, assessing possible scenarios of a post-Mubarak Egypt. Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, said on Sunday that his government is “anxiously monitoring” the political unrest in Egypt, his first comment on the crisis threatening a government that has been one of Israel’s key allies for more than 30 years.Israeli officials have remained largely silent about the situation in Egypt, but have made clear that preserving the historic 1979 peace agreement with the biggest Arab nation is a paramount interest.

The peace deal, cool but stable, turned Israel’s most potent regional enemy into a crucial partner, provided security on one of its borders and allowed it to significantly reduce the size of its army and defence budget.

’Anxiously monitoring’

“We are anxiously monitoring what is happening in Egypt and in our region,” Netanyahu said before his cabinet’s weekly meeting on Sunday.

“Israel and Egypt have been at peace for more than three decades and our objective is to ensure that these ties be preserved. At this time, we must display responsibility, restraint and utmost prudence,’’ Netanyahu added.

It was the first high-level comment from Israel on the Egypt protests, which began last week with disorganised crowds demanding the resignation of Mubarak and have grown into the most significant challenge to Egypt’s autocratic regime in recent memory.

Israel’s primary concern is that the uprising could be commandeered by Egypt’s strongest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, and its allies, who would presumably move Egypt away from its alignment with the West and possibly cancel the peace agreement with Israel.

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