Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday blasted Israeli and world politicians who support the Arab Spring revolutions and accused the Arab world of "moving not forward, but backward."
Netanyahu: Arab Spring pushing Mideast backward, not forward
The prime minister arrived at the Knesset session following the second meeting of the security-diplomatic cabinet, during which ministers were given the annual reviews of Military Intelligence, Mossad, the Foreign Ministry, and the Shin Bet.
The overview, which centered on developments in Egypt, Syria, and other Arab nations, began in an earlier meeting on Tuesday morning.
Almost a year after the Arab Spring began, Netanyahu’s speech, his sharpest Knesset comment since the wave of uprisings swept out of Tunisia, provided a glimpse into the prime minister’s true views concerning the massive popular unrest movement.
The speech showed an expressed lack of trust in Arab nations’ ability to maintain a democratic regime; a yearning to go back to the days of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak; a fear of the collapse of the Hashemite royal house in Jordan, and an utter lack of willingness to make any concessions to the Palestinians.
"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. His forecast that the Arab Spring would turn into an "Islamic, anti-Western, anti-liberal, anti-Israeli and anti-democratic wave" turned out to be true, he said.
Netanyahu also slammed Western leaders, and especially U.S. President Barak Obama, who had pushed Mubarak to resign from power. At the time this was happening Netanyahu said in closed talks that the American administration and many European leaders don’t understand reality. On Wednesday, he called them "naive."
"I ask today, who here didn’t understand reality? Who here didn’t understand history?" he called from the Knesset podium. "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."
Netanyahu used the upheaval in the Arab world to justify his government’s inaction vis-a-vis the peace process with the Palestinians.
"I remember many of you urged me to take the opportunity to make hasty concessions, to rush to an agreement," he said.
"But I will not establish Israel’s policy on illusions. There’s a huge upheaval here…whoever doesn’t see it is burying his head in the sand," he said.
"That didn’t stop people from coming to me and suggesting we make all kinds of concessions. I said we insist on foundations of stability and security…all the more so now," he said.