Israel and Egypt Peace Treaty in Jeopardy?

JERUSALEM - The shouts for a democratic Egypt have been met with a nervous silence from the government of Israel, which has yet to praise -- much less embrace -- the protests that toppled its autocratic friend Hosni Mubarak, reports CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds.

Here's why:

"Whenever we try to influence what is happening with some of our neighbors, usually the results were exactly the opposite of what we wanted," said Giora Eiland.

From the outset of the demonstrations against Mubarak, officials from Israel urged the United States to side with him. So much so that eventually Washington reportedly told them to "chill out."

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Almost to the last minute Israeli commentators felt Mubarak would withstand the protests. Led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israelis had many reasons to want him to.

Under his regime, Egypt's peace treaty with Israel has held for three decades.

He's been a positive force for peace with the Palestinians.

Mubarak's Egypt joined the Israelis in undercutting the Palestinian fundamentalists of Hamas by blockading the Gaza strip.

And his stable rule allowed the Israelis to concentrate their military in the north against Hezbollah in Lebanon... And the Syrians next door.

For now the Egyptian military rulers say they'll honor the Camp David Accords, but Egypt's influential Muslim Brotherhood never supported them and a leading secular politician Ayman Nur says they should be re-negotiated.

Add to that protests against the government in neighboring Jordan, which also has a peace treaty with Israel. Plus new --- and unpredictable -- Palestinian elections called for the West Bank. And you can see why many Israelis believe the less said, the better.

"Shut up," said Yossi Alpher. "It's the best thing we could do."

On Feb. 14 another rocket from Gaza landed in Israel. And though it didn't hurt anybody, it reminded Israelis that whatever may be dawning in Egypt. Some things in this region never seem to change.

  • Dean Reynolds
    Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.