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Originally published February 14, 2011 at 11:22 AM | Page modified February 14, 2011 at 2:49 PM

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Israeli PM: Arab world undergoing 'earthquake'

Israel's prime minister said Monday that an "earthquake" is under way in the Arab world but that he "hopes for the best."

The Associated Press

JERUSALEM —

Israel's prime minister said Monday that an "earthquake" is under way in the Arab world but that he "hopes for the best."

Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel hopes to strengthen its existing peace agreements and sign new ones, but remains "prepared for any possibility," referring to the unrest in the region including the toppling of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak by popular protests.

Israel and Egypt signed a peace agreement in 1979. The accord has been a lynchpin of regional stability for three decades. After forcing Mubarak to step down, Egypt's ruling military council said over the weekend that it would honor the accord - easing jitters in Israel.

Netanyahu spoke at a ceremony where Israel's new military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Banny Gantz, assumed command.

At a convention of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations later in Jerusalem, the general Gantz replaced, Gabi Ashkenazi, said that the treaty was likely to be preserved, but Israel's military is prepared in the event that it is abrogated.

"We have planned for this situation," he said. "We've thought about such scenarios."

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.

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