Netanyahu speaks at Knesset
Photo: Ohad Zoigenberg

Netanyahu: Democratic Egypt no threat

'Democratic Egypt will not endanger peace,' prime minister says as he changes previous tone

Israel's government is one of the few in the world to have expressed hope, especially in closed-door talks, that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would remain in power.


Yet after Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for the past 30 years, announced that he would not run in the September elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu changed his tack.


Netanyahu told the Knesset plenum Wednesday that hopes for "the dawn of a new day" are understandable. "Anyone who treasures man's liberties draws inspiration from the calls and possibilities for democratic reform," he said.


"It is inevitable that an Egypt which adopts the 21st century, which adopts such reforms, is a source of great hope for the world, the region, and us."


Netanyahu, who has previously voiced concern that the uprising would take on the characteristics of the Islamic revolution in Iran, spoke in a more positive tone on Wednesday.


"Democracy is dear to us, it is real, and it is obvious that a democratic Egypt will not endanger peace, just the opposite. If modern history teaches us anything it is that the stronger the democratic foundations, the stronger the foundations for peace," he said.


However, the prime minister reminded listeners that less optimistic scenarios could also transpire. "Tehran is waiting for the day in which darkness descends. They are not interested in the Egyptian citizens' aspirations for freedom, just as they were uninterested in such cries from the Iranian people," he warned.


Netanyahu also addressed concerns that the uprising would lead to the empowerment of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's main opposition group, which may object to the 1979 peace agreement with Israel.


"A peace agreement does not guarantee the existence of peace, so in order to protect it and ourselves, in cases in which the agreement disappears or is violated due to a regime change on the other side, we protect it with security arrangements on the ground," he said.


The prime minister was speaking at a special Knesset hearing about "the failures of the Netanyahu government in political, economic, and social fields", which was called by 40 MKs who signed a petition calling for the session.



פרסום ראשון: 02.02.11, 19:10
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