A recent Russian parliamentary vote may have been flawd but still represented the will of the people, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Monday, adding his support for a recently proposed bill that would ban Israeli mosques from using loundspeakers to call waroshippers to prayer.
A recent Russian parliamentary vote may have been flawed but still represented the will of the people, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Monday, adding his support for a recently proposed bill that would ban Israeli mosques from using loudspeakers to call worshippers to prayer.
Lieberman's comment on the Russian vote came as a defense of a remark on the subject he made last week, according to which the elections in Russia were fair.
"The outcome of the elections reflects the mood in Russia," said. "Maybe there were some errors in several areas in Russia… but that is not different than what happens in Israel in various Arab and Druze villages."
Lieberman noted that modern Russia only exists for 20 years, after hundreds of years of Tzar and communist regimes.
"Russia is not a Western democracy and it is impossible to jump four steps at a time," he said. "In 20 years quite a lot has happened. When you are in Moscow you can see criticism of Putin and Medvedev on Russian television. One can also get a permit for a protest in Moscow. What did Israel do until 1968 democracy-wise? How did it operate?"
Lieberman said that the errors in Russia's elections did not significantly alter the results. "In Russian villages the elections did not operate like in Zurich or Basel… but is it much different than what happens in Israel in various villages?" he asked.
"The elections were not perfect but they were reflective of the situation. There were various problems and that also happens in more advanced countries, lest I remind you the Florida elections between [George W.] Bush and Al Gore."
Lieberman also commented on a bill proposed by fellow Yisrael Beiteinu party member MK Anastassia Michaeli, which would ban mosques from using loudspeaker systems to call people to prayer.
In a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced support for the bill, saying that there was "no need to be more liberal than Europe."
Referring to the so-called Muezzin Law, the FM said on Monday that the bill was a "legitimate" one, adding that "there are similar precedents in the western world."
"I don't want to reinvent the wheel. I've seen the kind of laws that were approved in Switzerland concerning mosques and in France regarding veils," Lieberman said.
The FM was making reference to a 2010 Swiss law that forbade mosques from having minarets, as well as to a French ban on Muslim head-scarves and veils.
The foreign minister also spoke of Israel's ties with the United States, saying that, despite the strategic alliance that binds the two countries, there were disputes with the American administration, especially over the issue of Iran.
"We asked for sanctions to be imposed against the Central Bank of Iran and on the Iranian oil sector, but the Americans won't have it," Lieberman said, adding that there were other differences of opinion regarding the situation in the Middle East.
However, the FM added, "the United States is our most important backer," saying that there wasn't ever agreement about every issue, "even when [President] Shimon Peres was foreign minister."
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