Israel’s prime minister said on Sunday that his country’s 3-decade-old peace agreement with Egypt must be preserved, in his first public comment on the political unrest roiling Israel’s neighbour and regional ally.
Israeli officials have been silent until now on the protests in Egypt, which have destabilised the autocratic regime of President Hosni Mubarak, Israel’s most important ally in the Arab world.
Israel’s government is “anxiously following developments in Egypt and the region,” Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu told his weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
“Israel and Egypt have been at peace for more than three decades and our objective is to ensure that these ties be preserved,” he said. “At this time, we must display responsibility, restraint and utmost prudence.”
Israel signed a historic peace agreement with Anwar Sadat, Mubarak’s predecessor, in 1979.
Mr. Mubarak, who took power after Sadat was assassinated in 1981, has honoured the peace agreement, making Egypt an important source of stability. Ties have been cool but stable, allowing Israel to significantly scale back its armed forces.
Israelis have been closely watching the unrest, with some commentators expressing concern that a new regime could abrogate the peace agreement and resume the conflict with Israel. Before the peace agreement, the countries fought four wars in three decades.
Crowds calling for Mr. Mubarak’s resignation took to the streets last week, and protests have grown dramatically since then. Demonstrators have clashed with police and torched government buildings as the regime has failed to maintain order.