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Israeli PM: Tunisia highlights instability

JERUSALEM, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- The turmoil in Tunisia highlights the instability of the Middle East, Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at Sunday's cabinet meeting.

"We are vigorously following the developments," Netanyahu said of the civil uprising in Tunisia that forced its president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali to flee the country for Saudi Arabia.

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"The area we live in is unstable. Everyone today sees centers of great instability in the geographical area we live in. We hope that quiet and security will return to the region," Netanyahu said.

The prime minister also referred to the unstable situation in Lebanon after Hezbollah toppled the government in a bid to prevent the United Nations tribunal from publishing the findings of a probe into the death of the former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was assassinated in a car bombing in Beirut in 2005.

Hezbollah made the move while the country's Prime Minister Saad Hariri was in Washington. Hariri returned to Beirut on Friday in an effort to deal with the crisis.

The situation in Tunisia and Lebanon emphasizes the need to reach a proper peace agreement with the Palestinians, Haaretz quoted the prime minister saying.

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"The lesson from what we're seeing is to pour the basic foundations for security for every agreement because peace can unravel," The Jerusalem Post quoted Netanyahu saying. "Peace and security must be integrated," he said.

Silvan Shalom, Vice Prime Minister and Regional Development Minister, told Army Radio that the situation in Tunisia could cause the country to move towards extremism. "The question arises whether the state will maintain its character, and now there is a risk that Islamic movements that were banished by Ben Ali will try to go back there," he warned.

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