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ISRAEL: Officials keep a keen eye on Tunisia, also Lebanon

Like the rest of the region, Israel is keeping a keen eye on developments in Tunisia even as it  waits to see what tomorrow (or the next day) brings in Lebanon. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to convene an intelligence assessment meeting to study the situation, Israel Radio reported, but has already drawn one conclusion.

"The region in which we live is unstable ... we see this at several points throughout the Middle East," Netanyahu said at Sunday's weekly Cabinet meeting. And the one clear lesson arising from the surrounding situation is that "we need to lay the foundations of security in any agreement we make," he said. Peace can unravel, regime and other changes can occur; therefore, the government's policy is to "bind peace and security together," Netanyahu said.

The peace and security chicken-and-egg conundrum presents a stumbling block that is more than just a procedural dispute of what gets discussed first. Security is the key to keeping the peace, Netanyahu said last week in his annual meeting with the foreign media.

"This may not be obvious to some of you, because you hear all the time a contrary statement that says 'well, what will keep the peace is the peace,'" said Netanyahu. The formal conclusion of peace doesn't guarantee the continuation of peace, but the security arrangements will "buttress" it and "protect us in case peace unravels ... or Iran tries to walk in," the prime minister said. 

Various regional upheavals, according to Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, negate the claim that all instability in the area stems from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The unrest evident in Tunisia, Lebanon and Sudan derives from strictly internal issues, the Tunisian-born Shalom told Israel Radio on Sunday, asserting that the claim that the conflict destabilized the region was "a legend, nothing more."

The Jewish Agency is offering assistance to Tunisia's Jewish community, centered mostly in Djerba. Members of the community told Israeli media that the situation is precarious and that like everyone else, they are fearful, but not necessarily because they are Jews.

Like other countries evacuating tourists and encouraging nationals to leave, Israel extricated a group of tourists from Tunisia over the weekend. The Foreign Ministry worked the necessary diplomatic channels to safeguard their security and see them out through a third country, bending the diplomats' strike for the emergency. On their return, the tourists said the situation was a bit hair-raising but that they witnessed a piece of Tunisian history.

Arab-Israeli lawmaker Ahmad Tibi congratulated Tunisians on the uprising and said it was a "victory of freedom over dictatorship, corruption, social injustice and inequality." Democratic values must prevail throughout the region, news websites quoted Tibi as saying.

Other connections were made Saturday night at a rally in Tel Aviv, when thousands protested what they called political persecution and a threat to democracy, following a move for a parliamentary inquiry commission to investigate funding of left-wing and human rights organizations. Mohammed Barakeh, a lawmaker belonging to Hadash, an Arab-Jewish political party, said those who care about democracy should raise their voices. "Anyone who wishes to know the power of the people can look to Tunisia," he said.

— Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem

Comments () | Archives (7)

mohammed barakeh's comment is nothing more than a call to riot causing further deaths ,so called law maker or law breaker in the wings.
thank you.

Wait, hold it! The uprising in Tunisia is against a corrupt government, not a religious group against a secular government. That is not what this is all about.

Each country has its own problem; what would turn Tunisia upside down, is not what is turning Lebanon upside down. Sharing a religion, doesn't mean they are joined at the hip.

I guess Israeli government can safely dismiss Tunisia overthrown dictator as a allies, next is Egypt and Jordan, now that's people power in action!

"Other connections were made Saturday night at a rally in Tel Aviv, when thousands protested what they called political persecution and a threat to democracy, following a move for a parliamentary inquiry commission to investigate funding of left-wing and human rights organizations."
Good for open minded Israeli citizens checking their rightwing and religious fanatics, more power to them!

Is'nt it obvious that Israel is quite insidously using the events in Tunisia and Lebanon as a means of deflecting attention away from its own persecution of Palestinians ?

After covering aspects of Tunisian tourism for 12 years
( mainly spas and Jewish interest tourism) I am not
surprised about the recent turn of events. While the resorts, beaches
and antiquities are newsworthy and brought in tourism revenue
there was an underlying fear that I equate with repression.
Freedom of speech was an issue that one whispered about.
Tunisia is progressive but at the expense of a "president"
who lost contact with his constituents fueled by a first lady that
put herself and family "first" instead of the people. That
doesn't work indefinitely -( read: Marie Antoinette).

A sign of what's to come in "Palestine," and a reason for Israel to be cautious before signing any peace deal with Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.

"The Palestinian Authority, which had strong ties with the Tunisian regime, did not comment on the dramatic developments. Tunisia played host to the PLO after the organization was expelled from Lebanon in the early 1980’s. Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas had their offices and homes in Tunis for nearly a decade before they moved to the Palestinian territories after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.

"Hamas, for its part, warned that the PA leadership in the West Bank was likely to meet the same fate of Bin Ali.

“Mahmoud Abbas and his sons are among the wealthiest Palestinians,” Hamas said on Saturday. “Fatah leaders in the West Bank are very corrupt. “All indications are that the residents of the West Bank, who live under a tyrannical regime, are close to toppling the regime there. The people of the West Bank can no longer accept humiliation.”

Another Arab Muslim uprising against a secular government which has nothing to do with democratic rights that most Arab Muslims will encourage including Mr Mohammed Barakeh.


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