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Netanyahu slams 'anti-democratic wave' in region

Nov. 24, 2011 12:32 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 25, 2011 5:26 P.M.)
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- Israel's prime minister on Wednesday blasted anyone who supports the Arab Spring and said the Arab world was "moving not forward, but backward," media reports said.

Benjamin Netanyahu said history would prove him right about the "Islamic, anti-Western, anti-liberal, anti-Israeli and anti-democratic wave", as he termed it, sweeping the region.

"In February, when millions of Egyptians thronged to the streets in Cairo, commentators and quite a few Israeli members of the opposition said that we're facing a new era of liberalism and progress ... They said I was trying to scare the public and was on the wrong side of history and don't see where things are heading," he said.

But time has proved him right, Netanyahu said, according to Israel's Haaretz daily.

He also slammed Western leaders, and especially US President Barack Obama, and called them "naive," the report said. "I ask today, who here didn't understand reality? Who here didn't understand history?"

"Israel is facing a period of instability and uncertainty in the region. This is certainly not the time to listen to those who say follow your heart," he was quoted as saying in a Knesset speech.

Netanyahu used the upheaval in the Arab world to justify inaction vis-a-vis the peace process, the report said. "I remember many of you urged me to take the opportunity to make hasty concessions, to rush to an agreement."

"But I will not establish Israel's policy on illusions," he said.

"There's a huge upheaval here ... whoever doesn't see it is burying his head in the sand."

On Wednesday, Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni warned that recent legislation by Netanyahu's government would turn Israel from a democracy to a dictatorship.

Referring to the uprising in Egypt, she told the Knesset: "We were a democracy and they were a dictatorship. Now, they are trying to become a democracy, while we – with these bills – are heading towards dictatorship."

Livni's comments were made during a debate over several bills, including amendments to a libel bill which critics say seriously harms freedom of the press.

Israeli Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman MK Shaul Mofaz also said Netanyahu was creating a dictatorship in Israel, Ynet reported.

"Orwell's world is coming to life under your government's legislation, which is aiming to enforce elements of oppression and is creating a vision of horrors the likes of which we've never seen. It is as if 1984 is here," Mofaz said.

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