Now, a calmed Israel expresses admiration, sympathy for Egyptians

Jerusalem, Feb.14 (ANI): The alarm and anxiety that was quite visible in Israel last week as the revolution in Egypt was unfolding, leading to the eventual exit of President Hosni Mubarak who was seen as Jerusalem's staunchest regional ally, appears to be receding and giving way to nuanced admiration for the Egyptian people and sympathy for their cause.

The New York Times quoted Israeli commentator Ben Caspit, as saying that for Israelis, it is difficult not to be awed "by the new spirit, the hope and the optimism that gushed forth out of Egypt."

Writing in the Israeli daily Maariv on Sunday, Caspit said that the courage of the masses and the wisdom of the Egyptian armed forces has resulted in the exit of a strong and hated ruler like Mubarak in a comparatively dignified way.

The popular newspaper Yediot Aharonot has front-paged the celebratory mood among Egyptians celebrating, with the headline "A New Egypt."

Though Israeli leaders have maintained a diplomatic silence on the Egyptian uprising, they are worried about Egypt's future role, given the uncertainty that prevails currently in that country.

According to the New York Times, the Israeli leadership has been in almost daily contact with the White House.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has welcomed the statement of the Egyptian military that Egypt would continue to honor the peace treaty with Israel.

Israel, he said, sees the 1979 treaty as "the cornerstone of peace and stability, not only between the two countries, but in the entire Middle East as well."

In the short term, Israeli nerves appear to be calmed. Israel's defense minister, Ehud Barak has spoken to his Egyptian counterpart, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the chief of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which is now running Egypt.

They have known each other for 15 years, and both have agreed that it is their responsibility to prevent chaos and ensure stability in the region.

Efraim Halevy, a former chief of Mossad, Israel's intelligence service, said:" The likelihood of Egypt going to war against Israel in the next few years,is very, very small."

Halevy, who now directs the Shasha Center for Strategic Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said Israel has been wise to keep quiet during the recent crisis.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, has reportedly arrived in Tel Aviv to attend the farewell of departing army chief Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, but his visit is likely to also dwell on events in Egypt and its impact on the region. (ANI)

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