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Israel Monitors Egyptian Political Crisis Carefully


Good morning.

PHILIP REEVES: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: What exactly is Israel asking for?

REEVES: There's an intriguing report in Israel's Haaretz newspaper, on the website, saying that Israel's now pressing the international community - and obviously first and foremost that means the U.S. - to require that any new Egyptian government that may emerge should meet certain specific conditions in return for recognition by the West. And that includes, of course, the recognition of Israel and the commitment against the use of violence.

MONTAGNE: Faced with this uprising in Egypt, how has Israel's position moved from the first days of this to, say, today?

REEVES: In his latest statement, Netanyahu speaks positively of the protestors, saying Israel supports the advance of liberal and democratic values in the Middle East, but he also addresses the issue that's haunting Israel's strategy planners at the moment, which is that radicals adamantly hostile to Israel will eventually come to power in Cairo, as happened, Netanyahu says, in Iran in 1979.

MONTAGNE: And Phil, just for a moment, step back and remind us why all this matters so much.

REEVES: Israelis are now asking themselves some very critical questions: Might they now have to prepare for confrontation on their southern flank? Will they have to expand their armed forces? Will Israel have to beef up its defense spending still further? And what would the impact of that be on the economy?

MONTAGNE: And how worried are the Israelis about the Gaza Strip, which is sandwiched between Israel and Egypt?

REEVES: Israel's also worrying about the domino effect, whether the currents that inspired the Egyptian uprising will sweep into Jordan. There's already been street protests there, as you know, prompting King Abdullah to sack his government in an attempt to damp down public anger. There's a general recognition in Israel that the situation in Jordan is not quite the same as Egypt, but there's an awareness too that no one foresaw the uprising in Egypt, and at the moment the Middle East is proving very, very difficult to predict.

MONTAGNE: Speaking to us from Jerusalem, NPR correspondent Philip Reeves. Thanks very much.

REEVES: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Philip Reeves
Philip Reeves is an award-winning international correspondent covering South America. Previously, he served as NPR's correspondent covering Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.
Renee Montagne
Renee Montagne, one of the best-known names in public radio, is a special correspondent and host for NPR News.