Democracy Better Than Any Treaty
Netanyahu's Speech to Knesset: Hopes for Democracy, Plans for the worst
In a speech to the Knesset on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says he supports democratic reforms, but warns Egypt not to fall to Islamist extremists.
Netanyahu was in talks with his government all day Tuesday about the anti-government protests in Egypt. He emerged Wednesday to address the Knesset, the first time his government has publicly spoken about the issue.
"All those who value freedom are inspired by the calls for democratic reforms in Egypt. An Egypt that will adopt these reforms will be a source of hope for the world. As much as the foundations for democracy are stronger, the foundations for peace are stronger," Netanyahu said during his speech, reports Haaretz.
A main concern is that Egypt will turn into a repeat of 1979 Tehran where pro-democracy, anti-government riots against an autocrat quickly turned into a country ruled by Islam extremists.
The Muslim Brotherhood, although technically illegal in Egypt, is a well-organized Islamist opposition group that supports Hamas, and would be Israel’s worst option to succeed Egyptian President Mubarak.
Netanyahu also spoke of "bolstering Israel's might." It is unclear what will happen to the Israel-Egypt 1979 peace treaty when Mubarak leaves power. Netanyahu said that he expects any subsequent Egyptian government to honour it. Israel depends on its solid relationship with Egypt and on that peace treaty which leaves Israel with a relatively quiet border. Without the security it allows, Israel will have to beef up its military significantly.
But the uncertainty in Egypt may go on for years, in which case the country’s instability may force Israel to up its defense spending anyway. Tel Aviv resident Yoav Goren told The Wall Street Journal,"If Egypt becomes a democracy, that's better than any peace agreement."