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Israel shows concern amid Middle East turmoil

By Chen Keqin (Guangming Daily)

16:29, December 16, 2011

A wave of popular revolts known as the "Arab Spring" swept across the Arab World in the Middle East and North Africa from early 2011, led to regime changes in many countries in the region and rippled across the globe. In the beginning, many Israelis applauded the revolts and felt proud that their country is regarded as an island of stability and democracy in the Middle East.

However, Israel cannot help worrying over its deteriorating security environment and dwindling room for diplomacy in light of revolts in its neighboring countries, such as Egypt, Jordan and Syria, as well as the deterioration of its relations with Turkey, Palestine's application to join the United Nations and other hot issues. Therefore, it has to make necessary political and military adjustments.

The so-called "Arab Spring" did not happen in Israel, so it kept a low profile to prevent "playing with fire." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered cabinet members not to give media interviews. But in fact, the various experts and officials continued to analyze and discuss the matter without official declaration through the developed media and networks in Israel.

Eyal Eisenberg, major general of the Israeli Defense Forces Home Front Command, said he predicts the "Arab Spring" will usher in "the winter of extreme Islam" and increase the likelihood of various wars, including the use of weapons of mass destruction. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he does not think Arab countries will initiate large-scale war on Israel. But he acknowledged that the increasing turmoil in the Middle East has deteriorated the security environment and heightened the risk of regional war.

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