Netanyahu - AP - Jan 19, 2011
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset, January 2011. Photo by AP
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet Sunday that Israel must exercise responsibility and restraint in the face of the unrest in Egypt, and that Jerusalem's primary concern was to preserve the more than 30 years of stability and peaceful ties with Cairo.

"The peace between Israel and Egypt has lasted for more than three decades and our objective is to ensure that these relations will continue to exist," Netanyahu said.  

Protests against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's rule have worried Israel, which signed a peace treaty with its largest Arab ally in 1979, and uncertainty over Egypt's future has raised fears about stability in the region.

"We are following with vigilance the events in Egypt and in our region ... at this time we must show responsibility and restraint and maximum consideration," Netanyahu told his cabinet, in his first public response since the protests began.

The prime minister said he had spoken with U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton overnight, after which he had held consultations with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and senior intelligence officials.

Netanyahu also repeated his request for ministers to refrain from further comment on the situation in Egypt.

"Our efforts have been intended to continue to preserve stability and security in our region," Netanyahu added.