Netanyahu: Many Arab states see Israel as ‘friend’

‘The Arabs are changing,‘ says Israeli PM in a television interview

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Many Arab countries “see Israel not as an enemy but as a friend,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week, hitting back at those critical of the Canadian premier’s pro-Israel position.

Netanyahu was asked during an interview with Toronto-based CTV News about the criticism Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper receives for voicing support to Israel amid tensions surrounding the Mideast peace talks.

Harper, a staunch supporter of Israel, will be on a trip to the Jewish state and the West Bank next week.

In remarks made during the interview, the Israeli premier compared Harper’s pro-Israel position to Arab states, which chose to become “friends” with the country instead of viewing it as an enemy.

“Those who criticize him [Harper] are out of sync,” said Netanyahu.

“They should go to some of the countries in the Middle East who now support Israel, who think about Israel in different terms,” he added.

Netanyahu said many of Israel’s Arab neighbors aim for peace in the region and share concern over Iran’s nuclear program. Other Arab states see that hardline Islamist groups impose a threat to the region, he added.

“So I say to those who criticize a pro-Israel position in Canada, I ask them, come to the Middle East. Go to the Arab world and you'll discover, you'll discover a lot of people are reconsidering their positions,” he said.

“So when Canada says, ‘Israel is our friend,’ they're not necessarily alienating the Arabs. Quite the contrary, because the Arabs are changing. The Arabs, many of them, sometimes openly and sometimes in corridors and whispers, they say, ‘Israel is our friend.’ So they don't view others differently as a result of that.”

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