JERUSALEM // Israel has told its diplomats in the United States, Europe and elsewhere to encourage their host nations to support the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Haaretz reported yesterday.
The newspaper said Israel's foreign ministry told its diplomats to stress that it is in "the interest of the West" and of "the entire Middle East to maintain the stability of the regime in Egypt".
"We must therefore curb public criticism against President Hosni Mubarak," the message sent at the end of last week said, according to Haaretz.
The newspaper said the message was sent to Israeli diplomats in at least a dozen embassies in the United States, Canada, China, Russia and several European countries.
A foreign ministry spokesman and a spokesman for the prime minister's office both refused to confirm or deny that such instructions had been issued.
Israel has so far kept a low profile on the upheaval rocking Egypt, with the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, saying on Sunday he had instructed ministers not to speak publicly about the situation.
He has said little more than that he is watching developments closely.
But a senior Israeli official quoted by Haaretz suggested Israel was unhappy with the public comments made so far by US and European officials in response to the growing Egyptian crisis.
The United States and Europe have yet to call for Mr Mubarak to step down, but they have called for a transition to democracy and warned him to allow peaceful protests to continue.
"The Americans and the Europeans are being pulled along by public opinion and aren't considering their genuine interests," the unnamed official said.
"Even if they are critical of Mubarak, they have to make their friends feel that they're not alone. Jordan and Saudi Arabia see the reactions in the West - how everyone is abandoning Mubarak - and this will have very serious implications."