Cautious support for Egypt protests from Israel's Peres and Netanyahu

By Jennifer Lipman, February 1, 2011
The Camp David Accords

The Camp David Accords

Benjamin Netanyahu has appealed to the anti-government protesters to maintain Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel if they succeed in overthrowing the government of President Hosni Mubarak.

The Israeli Prime Minister expressed his support for democratic reform in Egypt as demonstrations in the Arab country continued for an eighth consecutive day.

Mr Netanyahu offered cautious backing to the protesters with a statement in which he said he encouraged “the advancement of free and democratic values in the Middle East”.

However he stressed that replacing Mr Mubarak’s three-decade rule with a radical alternative, as happened with the Islamist revolution in Iran after 1979, could be “a blow to peace and democracy."

There are concerns that the political upheaval will strengthen Egyptian Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been forced underground during the Mubarak administration and prevented from contesting elections as a political party.

Mr Netanyahu said: "Israel believes that the global community must demand that any Egyptian government preserve the peace treaty with Israel.”

Egypt became the first Arab country to officially recognise Israel in 1979 and is considered an important ally in the region.

Earlier today, during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli President Shimon Peres drew attention to democratic elections in 2006 at which the Palestinians elected a Hamas majority.

He said: "Democracy can not start and end in elections only.

"True democracy begins on the day after the elections, in granting human rights and concern for citizens' welfare.”

Mr Peres added: "If a religious extremist dictatorship rises the day after democratic elections, what are democratic elections worth?”

Last updated: 5:45pm, February 1 2011