RAMALLAH, January 29 (JMCC) - Israeli officials, speaking off the record after being warned by the government not to comment, are worried that mass protests in Egypt could deeply disrupt Israel
's standing in the Arab world.
The possibility of a new leadership in Egypt, they told the
GlobalPost, raises the prospect that peace agreements with Israel could be in jeopardy.
The fall of the Mubarak regime would be ''a disaster for Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Europe and the U.S.,'' said Eli Shaked, former Israeli ambassador to Cairo. ''I don't see among our friends someone who will benefit from this horrible scenario.''
In a sign of how worried the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is, officials have been ordered not to comment on the rumblings next door. Nevertheless, speaking on condition of anonymity, officials are confirming they are deeply concerned. For Israel, Mubarak has been a linchpin of moderation in the Arab world and a bridge between Israel and Arab countries.
''It's a strategic ally and has been since the 1979 peace treaty,'' an official said. ''There are many shared interests, we share a border, we live in the same neighborhood, we face the same challenges.''
Former Netanyahu adviser Zalman Shoval says he believes the Mubarak government is secure. Indeed, he thought the Egyptian people didn't have it in them to challenge the regime.
''The Egyptian people as a whole — although its always foolish to generalize — are basically a pacific people who are not necessarily eager to engage in bloodbaths, but still having said that I think there is concern and should be concern in Washington because it shows some of the attitudes of the U.S. administration and concepts regarding the Middle East as a whole were probably mistaken.''
Shoval went on to say that the US must reassess its view that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the center of instability in the region.
Other Israeli commentators have mocked the official view that public demonstrations will not be able to oust Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Haaretz's Gideon Levy says that
Egypt's transformation spells a death knell for Israel's allies in the region.
If there's one thing shared by all factions of the Egyptian opposition, it is their seething hatred of Israel. Now their representatives will rise to power, and Israel will find itself in a difficult situation. Neither will anything remain of the virtual achievement that Netanyahu often paraded - the alliance with the moderate Arab regimes against Iran. A real alliance with Egypt and its sister-states can only be based on the end of the occupation, as desired by the Egyptian people, and not on a common enemy, as an interest of its regime.