Benjamin Netanyahu - Emil Salman - 23.11.2011
Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the Knesset, Nov. 23, 2011. Photo by Emil Salman
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Israel and Egypt have a vested interest in maintaining their peace treaty, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday, adding that the 1979 agreement ensured stability in at the "heart" of the Middle East.

Netanyahu's comments came as renewed popular unrest in Egypt, resulting in the deaths of 36 protestors, has prompted the country's ruling military to speed up the transfer of power to a civilian government.

Speaking in a joint press conference with Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc, the premier said that "Israel and Egypt have a deep interest in preserving their peace," adding that the peace treaty "ensures the stability of the heart of the Middle East. It ensures quiet."

"We're working together with Egypt to maintain the peace," the premier said, adding: "I know there are many who attempt to undo peace, but we are working in full cooperation with the Egyptian to monitor [those elements], and are engaged in serious, responsible action to sustain the peace."

The premier emphasized that both sides were interested in safeguarding the 1979 peace treaty, adding that they wanted to "believe, and working to maintain that understanding, one that will continue to maintain this peace, which is important to all of us."

Referring to the stalled Mideast peace process, Netanyahu said that he hoped that the Palestinian Authority would "stop the reconciliation process with Hamas and choose to distance themselves from unilateral moves."

Netanyahu also tied in the Arab Spring to peace talks, saying that "Israel is very interested in having democratic neighbors, but that scenario is far from being certain. We may find ourselves in an environment more hostile than ever, and so we must be careful and no do anything that would risk Israel's security."

The PM also spoke on recently published sanctions against Iran and its nuclear program, imposed by the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and France.

"After the [International Atomic Energy Agency] report, everyone agrees that Iran is working feverously to attain nuclear weapons. That argument is over, Iran is working and advancing the nuclear weapons development plan in any way it can," the premier said.

In the face of the newly announced sanctions, Netanyahu said that while the new measures were important, stronger sanctions were needed, saying that current actions would not be enough.

"The only way in which sanctions would be more effective is by targeting the Iranian regime's main income sources, which means effective sanctions against the oil industry, and much more potent sanctions on Iran's central bank," he added.