Democratic uprisings that have already unseated long-standing autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt and are threatening to topple Moammar Gadhafi in Libya may be taken over by Islamist groups, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Tuesday.
"The fear is that they will be hijacked, (following the) the model of Iran, the model of Hamas in Gaza, the model of Hezbollah in Lebanon," Ayalon said during a visit to Brussels.
To stave off an Iran-like scenario, Ayalon urged the European Union and other international players to reach out to "genuine" pro- democracy groups, such as the January 25 movement that organized protests in Egypt.
Egypt's largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, described his comments as "a blatant and clear event of interference in foreign affairs."
Ayalon suggests "Israel would object to the Muslim Brotherhood being part of a future government and would work on banning the group from standing in any upcoming elections."
In a statement on their website, the group also said it had "long renounced violence."
The deputy FM said Israel would have no qualms with dealing with an Egyptian government supported by the Muslim Brotherhood, as long as the party renounced its radicalism.
"For us it is not a matter of titles, it is a matter of policies, and if the policies are peaceful policies, I think that we will welcome any Egyptian representative," Ayalon said.
Ayalon, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States and foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said the uprisings proved that the Arab-Israeli conflict was not the most serious issue for the region.
"The real major problem of the Middle East, which is now so glaringly evident, is the dysfunctionality of the Arab societies," he said, pointing to unemployment, illiteracy, poverty, lack of female empowerment and "rights of any kind."