Benjamin Netanyahu - Emil Salman - 23.11.2011
Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the Knesset, Nov. 23, 2011. Photo by Emil Salman
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday blasted Israeli and world politicians who support the Arab Spring revolutions and accused the Arab world of "moving not forward, but backward."

In his sharpest Knesset comment since the wave of uprisings swept out of Tunisia and across the Arab states in January, Netanyahu expressed his complete contempt for the Arab people's ability to sustain democratic regimes, and his nostalgia for Hosni Mubarak's regime in Egypt. He said he feared the collapse of Jordan's Hashemite monarchy and also reiterated his absolute refusal 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. Yesterday 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.