PM wishes Muslims in Israel, abroad 'Ramadan karim’

In Ramdan broadcast, PM invites Abbas to "sit down and negotiate"; New US envoy Shapiro tries to "get to know" Israelis via Facebook page.

July 31, 2011 22:24
2 minute read.
Netanyahu interview [file]

Netanyahu wishes muslims joy_311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US ambassador designate Dan Shapiro tried their hands at outreach Sunday, with Netanyahu broadcasting a Ramadan message to Israeli Arabs and Muslims around the world, and Shapiro launching a Facebook page to interact with the Israeli public.

Netanyahu, in a video uploaded to his Facebook page, wished the Muslim world a happy Ramadan, which begins on Monday, and said that “we are witnessing now a very dramatic moment in human history, and the history of the Middle East. We are witnessing the Arab Spring and we all want it to flourish and succeed. I know it is true for the people of Israel, who know the taste and meaning of democracy.”

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Netanyahu said that Israeli democracy can serve as “a beacon for their brothers in this vast area.” If Arab democracy will take root, Netanyahu said, “there will be true peace. But we don’t have to wait for that to happen. I would like to use this opportunity and call upon my neighbor, President [Mahmoud] Abbas to sit down and negotiate with me without preconditions, right here and now.”

Netanyahu said “our two peoples are waiting and yearning for this moment. I know how hard it is. I know there are many constraints and doubts. We can overcome them only if we sit together or send our envoys. We can cross this barrier and give a future of peace not only to our peoples, but also to the entire region. I want to see a region of democracy and peace, and I would like to wish you peace.”

As Netanyahu was trying to make inroads into the Arab world, Shapiro was trying to open up to the Israeli public.

Shapiro, who arrived here some 10 days ago, launched a Facebook page, saying he wanted to get to “know the citizens of Israel better” and exchange “views on politics, business, art, culture, sports, nature, and all aspects of the strong relationship between the United States and Israel. Our two countries are friends, allies, partners, not only between our governments, but between our peoples. So it is important that we know each other as well as possible. I look forward to meeting you online and in person.”

Shapiro’s initiative marks a significant change of style from his two immediate predecessors, Richard Jones and James Cunningham, who both kept low public profiles.

Shapiro, a close confidant to US President Barack Obama, is expected to be more proactive toward the Israeli public in an effort to change its largely negative attitude toward Obama’s Middle East policies.

Shapiro is scheduled to present his credentials to President Shimon Peres on Wednesday and formerly take up his ambassadorial duties.

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