Netanyahu and Mubarak - Moshe Milner
PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo on July 18, 2010 Photo by Moshe Milner
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that if democracy prevails in Egypt then it will not pose a threat to peace with Israel.

"All those who value freedom are inspired by the calls for democratic reforms in Egypt," Netanyahu said during a speech to the Knesset. "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."

The prime minister said that there is a risk that instability in Egypt could last for years, and called for "bolstering Israel's might" in response to the turmoil.

"The basis of our stability, our future and for maintaining peace or widening it, particularly in unstable times, this basis lies in bolstering Israel's might," he added, in his toughest response yet to the week of protests in Egypt.

Netanyahu said that Israel expects any new government in Egypt to respect the peace treaty with Israel, and warned that Iran wants Egypt to turn into Gaza. He also stressed that Israel supports forces which advance freedom and peace, and opposes forces who promote terror and war.

After eight days of anti-government protests in Egypt, riots turned violent on Wednesday as hundreds were reported wounded in clashes between supporters of Egypt President Hosni Mubarak and anti-government protesters.

On Monday, Netanyahu met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and warned that what happened in Iran could happen in Egypt.

"Our real fear is of a situation that could develop ... and which has already developed in several countries including Iran itself -- repressive regimes of radical Islam," said Netanyahu.

Netanyahu continued, adding that although the protests may not be motivated by religious extremism, "in a situation of chaos, an organized Islamist body can seize control of a country. It happened in Iran. It happened in other instances".