Israel Deputy PM: Changes In Egypt Not Over Yet

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BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) - Israel's deputy prime minister said the Middle East remains in "the eye of the storm" after the toppling of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.

Dan Meridor, who is also Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Prague on Tuesday that Egyptian protesters' demands for freedom and free election were positive.

"What we saw in Egypt is a unique development," Meridor said. "The slogans in the square were mostly from the western dictionary, not from the Muslim dictionary. They were about freedom, about liberties, about free elections, so they were positive."

Meridor warned that it is too early to say if Egypt is on the road "to a fully democratic regime that maintains peace and stability."

"We are still in the eye of the storm and I don't think we can make an assessment now as to what will develop here," he said. "The storm is not over, it's only a beginning and a new regime is yet not in place," Meridor said.

Israel hopes that the current developments will weaken the radical forces in the region, he said.

"We hope very much that the camp of moderates that Israel and Egypt are a central part of will be strong and strengthen and the camp of the radicals led by Iran and Syria and Hezbollah and Hamas will not gain. We wish that the moderates strengthen and the radicals weaken," he said.

Meridor said the country's peace agreement it signed with Egypt in 1979 remains "a cornerstone for the stability and peace in the region."

"We certainly think that its' important for Israel and Egypt to keep on hanging to the peace treaty between us," Meridor said.

Egypt's ruling military council said over the weekend that it would honor the accord.

The treaty allowed the Israeli military to drastically thin out its troops along the long desert border with Egypt. Any change in the status of Israel-Egypt relations would require a major realignment of Israeli forces.

Meridor was in Prague to meet Czech leaders, including Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. The Czech Republic is one of the strongest EU allies of Israel.