Israel calls on West to hold back criticism of Egypt’s Mubarak

Israel is urging Western powers to refrain from criticizing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak amid large-scale opposition protests.

Tel Aviv is seeking to convince the West that it is in its interest to maintain the stability of the Egyptian regime.

Haaretz quoted senior Israeli officials as saying the Foreign Ministry had sent cables to around a dozen key embassies in the United States, Canada, China, Russia and several European countries, ordering ambassadors to stress to their host countries the importance of Egypt’s stability.

The move follows statements by Western leaders calling on the Egyptian authorities to launch reforms to ease tensions in the country, which have been seen by some analysts as a sign of support for Mubarak’s eventual ouster.

Both U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke over the weekend of the need for an “orderly transition” to a democratic future for Egypt.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a joint statement on Saturday calling on Mubarak to “begin a transformation process that should be reflected in a broadly-based government, as well as free and fair elections.”

“The Americans and the Europeans are being pulled along by public opinion and aren’t considering their genuine interests,” Haaretz quoted an indentified senior Israeli official as saying.

“Even if they are critical of Mubarak they have to make their friends feel that they’re not alone. Jordan and Saudi Arabia see the reactions in the West, how everyone is abandoning Mubarak, and this will have very serious implications.”

Egypt was the first Arab country to officially recognize Israel and sign a peace agreement with the Israeli government in 1979. It is also a major mediator of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Protests continued in Egypt for the seventh straight day on Monday, with a central Cairo crowd of some 50,000 calling for Mubarak’s resignation and political reforms.

At least 100 people have died in the unrest, and hundreds have been injured.

Fears are also mounting in Israel that Islamists may come to power in the country, which would result in Israel facing a new threat from the south. Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu announced at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting that the security cabinet would convene Monday to discuss the situation in Egypt, Haaretz said.

“The peace between Israel and Egypt has lasted for more than three decades and our objective is to ensure that these relations will continue to exist,” Netanyahu reportedly told his ministers.

TEL AVIV, January 31, 2011  (RIA Novosti)

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