Netanyahu leaning 311.
(photo credit: Emile Salman)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu alluded discretely to the volatile situation in Tunisia at Sunday’s cabinet meeting, saying the quick changes there show why Israel needed to insist on security arrangements on the ground in any peace agreement.
Without mentioning Tunisia by name, Netanyahu said, “The region in which we live is unstable. Everyone sees this today. We see this at several points throughout the Middle East.
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“I would say that there is great deal of instability in the great geographic expanse in which we live. We hope that stability will be restored, and we hope that there will be quiet and security. We are carefully monitoring developments.”
Netanyahu said the “one clear lesson” from these developments was that “we need to lay the foundations of security in any agreement we reach.
“We cannot simply say, ‘We are signing a peace agreement,’ close our eyes and say, ‘We did it. Because we do not know with any clarity that the peace will indeed be honored. We will increase the chances that any agreement will be honored by ensuring that it includes within it stable and solid security arrangements.
“But there is another reason why we insist on peace agreements with a very strong security basis, because peace can unravel,” he said. “It could be that there are regime changes, and other changes, that we don’t expect today, but which could happen tomorrow. Therefore, this government’s policy is to tie peace and security together, because security ensures peace and protects the State of Israel should it [the peace] unravel.”
The concern in Jerusalem over the developments in Tunisia was not only that the uprising there could potentially spread and topple other “moderate” yet autocratic regimes in the region, but that Iran or its proxies could exploit the “cracks” in Tunisia to make inroads inside the country, as they have successfully done elsewhere, such as in Yemen.
Meanwhile, Ayoub Kara, the deputy minister for development of the Negev and Galilee, called Tunisia’s representative in Ramallah Shachib al-Habasi on Sunday to offer his assistance.
Kara put out a statement saying that a return of stability to the area was in the interest of all countries in the region, including Israel.
Habasi, according to the statement, said that Tunisia’s security services were working to calm the situation, and that he expected the new government to be in place in a number of days, upon which quiet would return to the country.
He said that the struggle was not against the government and its
representatives, but rather against President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali
and his family because of the country’s poverty and unemployment.
The statement said that Kara travelled to Tunisia a number of times over
the last few years to promote cooperation between the two countries.
Tunisia established ties with Israel in 1996, but severed them in
October 2000, just after the outbreak of the second intifada.