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Israel Says Peace Treaty With Egypt Must Be Preserved


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, second right, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem (File Photo).

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, second right, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem (File Photo).

Israel has given its first official response to the unrest in neighboring Egypt.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is anxiously following events in Egypt.

Speaking at the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that at this time, Israel "must show maximum responsibility and restraint."

He said that the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt has lasted for more than three decades and he hopes that peaceful relations will continue.

The prime minister's comments point to a major concern in Israel, that a regime change in Egypt could threaten the peace agreement signed in 1979.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been a key player in the Middle East process and a bridge between Israel and the Arab world. But Israel is concerned that a new government led by opposition groups or the Muslim Brotherhood would be more hostile toward the Jewish state.

There is plenty of anti-Israel sentiment in Egypt, and analysts say a new government might nullify the peace treaty.

That would complicate Israel's security situation because it already has two hostile borders controlled by Islamic militants: Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

Netanyahu said he has discussed the situation with U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The prime minister says Israel is working to preserve regional security and stability.

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