Israel offered to provide asylum to deposed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, a leading Israeli lawmaker revealed on Wednesday, the day Mubarak went on trial for corruption and murder.
Speaking to Army Radio, former Labor Party chief and Minister of Industry and Trade, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, said he had personally offered Mubarak asylum in the Red Sea resort town of Eilat.
Ben-Eliezer said Mubarak turned down the offer, reiterating what he had said repeatedly during the revolution that overthrew his regime: that he will die in Egypt.
And if many Egyptians have their way, that is precisely what will happen, and soon.
Though Mubarak is in the last stages of terminal cancer, many Egyptians want him executed for his crimes against his people. The trial of Mubarak and his two sons has become the main attraction in the Middle East over the past few days.
While many Israelis sided with the pro-democracy protestors who eventually ousted Mubarak and his repressive regime, Israelis were also aware that Mubarak was a stabilizing force in a region prone to explosions of extremism.
"The Middle East after Mubarak will be completely different," warned Ben-Eliezer. "He was one of the leaders who was able to keep the stability."
Indeed, the negative fallout is already being seen. While Egypt's revolution began as a movement for greater democratic freedom, it is being rapidly hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists, whose followers are now demanding that Egypt be placed under Sharia Law.
That does not mean everything was rosy before. Under Mubarak, Egypt remained icy cold toward Israel, and anti-Semitic productions were a regular feature in Egyptian entertainment.
But, there was also little or no fear that Egypt under Mubarak would ever go to war against Israel. The same cannot be said of the forces now gaining power in Egypt.
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