Israel fears Islamic rule in Egypt once Mubarak removed

Thursday February 3 2011

JERUSALEM, Thursday

Israel is increasingly worried that the fall of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak could open the door to an Islamic regime which endangers the Jewish state’s long-standing peace with Cairo.

The growing surge of anti-government fervour sweeping Egypt has sent shockwaves across the Middle East, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning Wednesday it could destabilise the region “for many years.”

Egypt is likely to see a battle between its pro-democracy camp and supporters of an Iranian-style radical Islamist system, the premier told MPs.

“There are two worlds, two halves, two views — that of the free world and that of the radical world,” he said. “Which one will prevail in Egypt? The answer is crucial to the future of Egypt, the future of the region and for us here in Israel.

“It is possible that there will not be a resolution between these forces for a long time, there will be instability and uncertainty that continues for many years,” he added.

Since the protests erupted last week, Israel’s focus has been on preserving regional stability and its relations with Egypt, with which it signed a peace treaty in 1979.

Egypt was the first Arab state to make peace with Israel after four wars, initiating 30 years of calm on Israel’s southern border, although relations have remained cool. (AFP)