Israelis react cautiously to ally Mubarak's exit

Tel Aviv (Israel), Feb.12 (ANI): Israel has reacted with quiet and deep concern over the exit of long-term ally Hosni Mubarak as the president of Egypt.

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu maintained the same studied silence on the assumption that nothing it said could serve its interests.

Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were worried that a post-Mubarak regime could be less friendly to Israel.

"We don't know who will be running things in the coming months in Egypt, but we have to keep two things in mind. The first is that the only example we have of this kind of thing in the region is Iran in 1979. You can't take that out of your mind. The second is that if Egypt pulls back in any way from its peace with Israel, it will discourage anyone else in the region, including the Palestinians, from stepping forward. So the regional implications for us are significant," the New York Times quoted one official, as saying.

The official said it was more likely than not that Egypt would maintain its peace treaty with Israel and added that, in any case, relations with Israel would probably not be among the first concerns of the incoming Egyptian authorities.

Prime Minister Netanyahu laid out three possible situations after Mubarak resigned.

He said: "First, Egyptians may choose to embrace the model of a secular reformist state with a prominent role for the military. There is a second possibility that the Islamists exploit the influence to gradually take the country into a reverse direction - not towards modernity and reform but backward.

"And there's still a third possibility - that Egypt would go the way of Iran, where calls for progress would be silenced by a dark and violent despotism that subjugates its own people and threatens everyone else."

Mubarak is reported to have told close friend and former Israeli defense minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer that he saw great peril ahead for Egypt.

"He spoke about a snowball that was starting to roll, which would not leave a single Arab state untouched in either the Middle East or North Africa," the NYT quoted Ben-Eliezer, as saying.

"He spoke of his disappointment with the Americans," he added.

Across the border, in Palestine, marches were held in the Gaza Strip on Friday. The marchers chanted against Mubarak and also against President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, whom they consider a traitor.

Hamas officials are calling on Egypt to open its border with Gaza completely. (ANI)

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