Netanyahu: Egypt Turmoil Proves Need for Security Assurances in Mideast Peace Deal

Speaking less than a day after Israel's Cairo embassy was attacked by protesters, PM says Israel committed to its peace treaty with Egypt, would work to restore Turkey ties.

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Israel will continue to adhere to its peace treaty with Egypt in wake of the storming of Israel's embassy in Cairo, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday, adding that continued Mideast turmoil proves that Israel is right to insist on security assurances in any future peace deal.

Earlier Saturday Egypt raised its national alertness level following a severe nighttime incident late Friday, as thousands of Egyptian protesters attacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo, resulting in the evacuation of dozens of Israeli diplomats.

Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to reporters, Sept. 10, 2011.Credit: Emil Salman

Egyptian commandos released six besieged security guards from the Israeli Embassy, while an Israeli Air Force plane evacuated over 80 diplomats, including family members from Cairo, after a mass group of Egyptian protesters broke into the embassy.

Netanyahu thanked on Saturday both the United States and Egypt for their aid in the wake of the embassy attack, adding that Israel's peace treaty with Egypt was an interest shared by both countries and "an anchor" in Israel's regional policy.

Netanyahu also referred to what he saw as a link between events such as the attack on the Israeli embassy and the stalled Middle East peace process.

"The Middle East is undergoing an earthquake of historical proportions, one that has not been experienced since the turmoil Europe experienced after WWI," Netanyahu said, adding that it was up to Israel to "defend its interests in the region."

One of these interests, the premier said, was Israel's continued "struggle for peace with the Palestinians," adding that direct talks were the only way to achieve peace. Netanyahu also said that continued Mideast turmoil proved the importance of security assurances in future peace deals.

"I believe there are many in Israel and in the world that understand our justified insistence on maintaining Israel's security needs in any future deal," Netanyahu said.

The PM also made reference to the ongoing diplomatic crisis with Turkey, saying that Israel would try to "prevent Turkey ties from deteriorating further."

"We did not choose this route," Netanyahu said, adding that Jerusalem would "work to lower the flames and perhaps even return relations to normalcy."

An Israeli source indicated that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak attempted repeatedly to reach Supreme Military Council head Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, to no avail.

According to the source, the "Egyptians said every time that they were not able to track him down in order to connect the call." After failing to locate Tantawi himself, Netanyahu called head of Egyptian intelligence, Gen. Murad Muwafi.

Barak, in turn, called U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, asking him to discuss the issue with Tantawi, which Panetta was able to do shortly after.

Earlier Saturday, Egypt's Information Minister Osama Heikal assured that Egypt was committed to all of the international treaties to which it is a signatory, adding Cairo's commitment to securing the safety of all diplomats assigned to the country.

"Everything that happened is a gross violation of the law, and one cannot call the perpetrators of the act brave or patriotic," Heikal said, adding that "what happened severely injured Egypt's pride as well as its international standing, and that is not something we can accept."

In addition, the Egyptian minister announced that Cairo would reinstate emergency laws that were canceled as a result of anti-Mubarak protests in February, as well of undertaking a series of steps which he said were meant to deter further rioting and disturbances of the peace.



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