Freitag, 4. Februar 2011

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Remarks on the Situation in Egypt

On Monday (January 31), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the situation in Egypt during a joint press conference with Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Angela Merkel. In his remarks, PM Netanyahu said, "We all hope that the situation will be resolved peacefully, that stability will be restored and that the peace will be preserved."
Translated excerpts of the press conference are below; a full transcript of the conference is available on the: 
Prime Minister's website.

PM Netanyahu: I cannot refer to everything that is written in the papers, but I would like to tell you what our policy is concerning Egypt. Over 30 years ago, a huge change occurred in the region. The largest Arab country, that had led the wars against Israel, this country – Egypt – made peace with Israel, and this created a new situation in the area, new for us and for Egypt itself.
Therefore, our objective has been and remains to preserve the peace. It is obvious that this is the top priority, I think not only for us, but for our friend Germany, certainly for our friend the USA, for all countries. All countries want peace to continue. Nobody wants to go back to those difficult times, and we are all following the events with concern and apprehension, hoping that peace will last.

Peace and stability are important.

They are intertwined.

We know that. That is why this is our policy. Our policy is to preserve the peace as much as we can. Over the years, Egypt has upheld the peace agreement and did not violate it. It did not violate it in the last few days either.

Question: This question is for both leaders. What is the lesson, in your opinion, that the leaders of the countries in the region should learn from the fact that the USA, and in its heel other European countries, abandoned Mubarak a moment after the tumult began? What message do you think the American policy sends to Jordan and other non-democratic countries?

And a question for you, Mr. Prime Minister: have you had a chance to speak with our ambassador to Egypt to get a report on what is going on?

PM Netanyahu: I spoke repeatedly over the past few days with the Foreign Minister and the Minister of Defense and with all our intelligence services, without exception. The Foreign Minister is briefing me on everything that comes from our embassy in Cairo, and I assure you that I brief him on everything that comes from the intelligence services.

Our problem is not whether we are updated. We have two problems. One is that we are concerned about our citizens there, and I think we have been handling this responsibly. Without delivering any messages, we must take the necessary steps, in full coordination between the Israeli government agencies.

The second problem is that the situation is very dynamic. We all know what we would like to see happening. I do not think that there are great differences here in the democratic world. Our most serious concern is that in a situation of rapid changes, and in the absence of the foundations of modern democracy, what could emerge, and has already emerged in a number of countries, including Iran, is repressive radical Islamic regimes that suppress human rights, allow no freedoms and no rights and also pose a terrible threat to peace and stability and to the interests of all civilized people.

This is our concern. It is my concern. I think that many others share this concern. I assure you that I am constantly receiving reports, whenever necessary, given the circumstances and what's at stake.

Question: Prime Minister, next week you will be in Munich and meet with the Quartet. 

Can the Israeli government offer anything new to the Palestinians?

PM Netanyahu: There is an old Hebrew saying "the wise man will remain silent at that time".

I don’t know how to translate it into German.

Well, I have no intention of addressing possible developments in Egypt beyond what I said.

We hope that all the problems will be resolved in the best way.

I did express a concern which I believe is shared by all the leaders

I spoke to, and I spoke to many of them over the last few days.

We all hope that the situation will be resolved peacefully, that stability will be restored and that the peace will be preserved.

I think I can also say that the instability and unrest do not stem from fundamentalist Islamic elements.

It certainly is not the case in Tunisia and I don’t think it is the case in Egypt.

However, in a situation of chaos, an organized Islamic force can take over.

It happened. It happened in Iran and in other places when an organized force took over in times of change.

The Foreign Minister reminded me yesterday that it also happened in the Bolshevik Revolution.

There was a democratic regime, and Alexander Kerensky was simply ousted by the organized force that took over.

All the leaders I have spoken to, without exception, do not want this to be the outcome.

There are many other things we share, but right now this is one of the most important things that unite all those who strive for stability, progress and peace in this region and beyond.

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