Tag Archives: protests

Egyptian turmoil: The Israeli position


Address delivered by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
February 4, 2011, at the Knesset (Israeli parliament) in Jerusalem


Yesterday was a dramatic day in our region. Millions of people poured into the streets of Egypt.

President Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for 30 years, announced that he will not run in the next presidential elections, and will work to introduce governmental reforms in Egypt.

In Washington, London, Paris and throughout the democratic world, leaders, analysts and researchers spoke about the opportunities that change in Egypt could bring. They spoke about the promise of a new day.

These hopes are understandable.

All those who cherish human liberty, including the people of Israel, are inspired by genuine calls for reform and by the possibility that it will take place.

It is obvious that an Egypt that fully embraces the 21st century and that adopts these reforms would be a source of great hope for the entire world, the region and for us.

In Israel, we know the value of democratic institutions and the significance of liberty. We know the value of independent courts that protect the rights of individuals and the rule of law; we appreciate the value of a free press and of a parliamentary system with a coalition and an opposition.

It is clear that an Egypt that rests on these institutions, an Egypt that is anchored in democratic values, would never be a threat to peace. On the contrary, if we have learned anything from modern history, it is that the stronger the foundations of democracy, the stronger the foundations of peace. Peace among democracies is strong, and democracy strengthens the peace.

One possible scenario, which undoubtedly unites us all, is that these hopes for democracy and a gradual, stable peace process are realized in Egypt.

HOWEVER, THIS is not the only possible scenario. Because far away from Washington, Paris, London – and not so far from Jerusalem – is another capital in which there are hopes.

In this capital, there are leaders who can also see the opportunities that change in Egypt could bring.

They also support the millions who took to the streets.

They too speak about the promise of a new day. But for the people in this capital, the promise of a new day is not in its dawn but in the darkness it can bring.

That capital is Teheran, and I assure you, that the leaders in Iran are not interested in the genuine desires of Egyptians for freedom, liberalization or reform, any more than they were interested in answering similar calls for freedom by the Iranian people, their own people, only 18 months ago…

The Iranian regime is not interested in seeing an Egypt that protects the rights of individuals, women and minorities. They are not interested in an enlightened Egypt that embraces the 21st century. They want an Egypt that returns to the Middle Ages.

They want Egypt to become another Gaza, run by radical forces that oppose everything that the democratic world stands for.

We have two separate worlds here, two opposites, two worldviews: that of the free, democratic world and that of the radical world. Which one of them will prevail in Egypt? The answer to this question is crucial to the future of Egypt, of the region and to our own future here in Israel…

Should the forces that wish to carefully reform and democratize Egypt prevail, I am convinced that such positive change would also buttress a wider Arab-Israeli peace. But we are not there yet.

For over 30 years we have enjoyed peace on two fronts. One is a peaceful border with Egypt, and the second the peaceful border with Jordan… It has changed the world and it has changed the State of Israel. It changed our strategic situation.

That is why preserving the existing peace is vital for us.

We expect any government of Egypt to honor the peace. Moreover, we expect the international community to expect any government of Egypt to honor the peace.

This must be clear, along with the discussions about reform and democracy.

We must also humbly recognize the truth – that these immense revolutions, these dramatic changes, this earthquake – none of this is about us. We are in a turbulent situation. In such situations we must look around with our eyes wide open. We must identify things as they are, not as we’d like them to be. We must not try to force reality into a preconceived pattern.

We must accept that a huge change is taking place, and while it is happening – keep a watchful eye.

The basis for our stability and our future, for preserving or extending the peace, especially during unsteady times, is by reinforcing the might of the State of Israel.

That requires security and also for us to be honest with ourselves.

To be honest with ourselves and refrain from self-flagellation on account of the problems we are surrounded with and the changes that are taking place.

It is easy to blame ourselves for these and also for the Palestinian issue.

Because when we blame ourselves, we feel that we are in control, that developments depend on us. Otherwise, there are those who feel helpless when faced with these changes…

I said that we are willing and we want to promote the peace process with the Palestinians.

I have said that the first two components of this peace process are mutual recognition and security. I have said numerous times that we need real security arrangements. Not only because they sustain peace, but also because they ensure our security in the event that peace unravels – and in the Middle East no one can guarantee the survival of any regime.

I HOPE that President Abbas will regard the changes taking place in the region as an opportunity to sit down with us and discuss peace without preconditions, negotiations that take into account changes that will affect Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

I hope President Abbas will join me in a sincere effort to explore the options for a realistic peace with realistic security arrangements needed in the reality in which we find ourselves – for the sake of Israelis and Palestinians and our common future.

In this reality, Israel must fortify its might. We must maintain our security. We must strive for a stable peace with determination, caution, responsibility and, above all, with watchful eyes that recognize reality.


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The Martyrdom of Mousavi

Iranian opposition leader and former presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi has declared that he is prepared for martyrdom in his quest to reform the Iranian political system. Essentially, he has invited the government to slay him, knowing that this will only bolster his cause among the disenchanted  people of his country.

And yet, on the same day, another former presidential candidate, Mohsen Rezai, has delivered a letter to the Iranian government stating that Mr. Mousavi has changed his position and is now willing to work with the present government to effect change and that he no longer disputes the legitimacy of last year’s presidential elections. The letter welcomes Mousavi back to the fold and provides a veneer of plausible deniability for the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the event of Mousavi’s demise.

A major crackdown on dissent may be imminent.

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Revolution within the Revolution

iran_573958aA nationwide crackdown on voter protests by Iranian authorities has resulted in the deaths of at least ten people, according to Iranian government sources. Hospital officials put the death toll at 19, but reports from CNN and other news agencies indicate that as many as 150 may have died since a strong, public backlash erupted last week over the country’s June 12th presidential election results.

GKXFRafsanjani Muzzled?
The daughter of former Iranian President Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has reportedly been arrested by police for allegedly fomenting violence. Four other family members of the prominent cleric have also been detained. (UPDATE: June 22, 2009, 12:49 AM EDT – Rafsanjani’s Daughter Released) There has so far been no formal statement on this matter from Rafsanjani who has been conspicuously silent since just after the disputed election results confirmed the return to office of hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. At the time of this posting, Rafsanjani’s website (like many others across the nation) has been taken offline. (UPDATE: June 22, 2009, 2:15 AM EDT – Website back on-line.)

iran hashemi rafsanjaniRafsanjani is the Chairman of the powerful Expediency Council as well as the pivotal Assembly of Experts; the latter of which has the power to dismiss the Supreme Ruler, an office presently held by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. This could set the stage for a possible showdown between the country’s two most dominant clerics.

Ayatollah Rafsanjani (one of the richest and most influential men in Iran) would have been a contender for the presidency, but he turned 75 years old before election day and was therefore ineligible.

225px-Mir_Hossein_Mousavi_in_Zanjan_by_MardetanhaChallenger Forced Underground?
Chief election challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi has called for a nationwide general strike in the event of his arrest by authorities, stating that he is prepared for martyrdom. Neither Mr. Mousavi nor Mr. Karroubi nor Mr. Rezai (all candidates who have challenged the official results) showed up at Saturday’s Council of Guardians meeting initiated to consider the more than 600 objections lodged over the contested poll results. There was apparently some concern among the candidates that they would be arrested immediately upon arrival at the hearing.

Ayatollah Khamenei

Ayatollah Khamenei

A Severe Shortage of Real Choices
Mr. Mousavi, a former Prime Minister of the Iranian government during the 1980s, is currently seen as a ‘moderate’ though he did support forceful suppression of popular change during his term in office. Ayatollah Rafsanjani, though presently opposing the election of Mr. Ahmadinejad, has frequently been less than moderate in his own positions; in 2001 and again in 2003, he appeared to advocate an Iranian nuclear strike against the State of Israel, which is generally viewed as an “agent of Satan” by Iran’s ruling theocratic elite. Mr. Rezai, too, is a staunch conservative and the former Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Mr. Karroubi is seen by some in Iran to be a reformist, but he bears a strong allegiance to the current Supreme Ruler Khamenei and was appointed by the Grand Ayatollah to his current position.

playersDuring each of the past several elections, thousands of potential candidates have been rejected by the government and declared ineligible to run.

A Dearth of Perspectives — But News Leaks Out
Most foreign news media personnel have been expelled from the country, but citizens are using the Internet (despite concerted attempts to block such network traffic) to sneak out images—and even video—of breaking events as they transpire.

Massive street demonstration captured on cellphone video-cam:

Should the revolutionary Islamic regime perceive a high level of threat against its authority (especially if protests engulf the southwest of the country) then it is possible that we may see the sort of response predicted by VizReport in its March 1, 2006, coverage of the evolving situation in Iran.

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