Israel's president said Saturday that Egypt's embattled leader, Hosni Mubarak, will always be remembered for preserving three decades of peace between the two nations.
Israel is deeply worried about the prospect that Mubarak could be forced to step down by the unprecedented street protests in Egypt and that a less friendly government will emerge. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that any new government must maintain their 1979 peace deal - Israel's first with an Arab nation.
On Saturday, President Shimon Peres delivered an impassioned defense of Mubarak, crediting him with saving both Arab and Israeli lives by preventing war in the Middle East.
"His contribution to peace, as far as I'm concerned, will never be forgotten," Peres said in an address to hundreds of visiting members of the European Parliament.
During the three decades Mubarak has been in power, he has consistently enforced the peace treaty signed by his predecessor, and he has mediated between Israel and the Palestinians.
Peres warned against the possibility that Mubarak's ouster would bring the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's best organized opposition movement, to power, saying the fundamentalist group won't bring peace.
"We're very worried about having a change in government or a change in the system of elections without introducing a change in the reasons that brought this explosion, this bitterness," Peres said.
He appealed for foreign investment to bring technology, development and openness to Egypt.