Netanyahu hails Israel as 'island of democracy'

PM avoids direct address to situation in Egypt at US Embassy's annual Fourth of July celebration.

July 4, 2013 21:54
2 minute read.
Netanyahu at the US embassy's annual Fourth of July celebration, July 4, 2013

Netanyahu with American, Israeli flag 390. (photo credit: מוטי מילרוד / "הארץ")

Israel is an island of democracy in a sea of instability and despotism, and this has never been truer than now, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Thursday night at the annual Fourth of July bash at the US ambassador’s home in Herzliya.

Without addressing the situation in Egypt directly, the prime minister said that “those who seek liberty are our natural allies.”

Netanyahu said that he hopes there will be a time when true democracy will flourish in the region, but this is something that will take time.

Ambassador Dan Shapiro quoted President Barack Obama as saying the US will do “whatever it must” to prevent a nuclear Iran.

Referring to ongoing efforts to revive the peace process, Shapiro said that he expects officials to spend many more hours with US Secretary of State John Kerry in the near future.

Netanyahu, for his part, reiterated his position that he wants to sit down immediately with the Palestinians, and that Israel is not putting any obstacles in the way of the talks.

Marking over 200 years of independence on Thursday, President Shimon Peres congratulated the American people, applauding the United States as a “beacon of hope for the values of freedom, peace and justice around the globe... [a] bastion of democracy.”

Peres said the cause of peace is emphasized by Kerry’s efforts to mediate talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Kerry’s efforts and Obama’s recent visits to the region “demonstrates that the two-state solution is accepted by the majority of the two peoples – Israelis and Palestinians,” Peres stated, adding that there is “no realistic peaceful alternative to the two-state solution.”

Israel, though small in size, will remain “great in its commitment of friendship to America. Israel could not have a better friend than America,” he said.

Concluding his speech, Peres said that both America and Israel are on a “moving journey to improve the world.”

Among the 2,000 guests at the celebration were members of the government and Knesset, officers from Israel Defense Forces, members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of the local and international media and senior academics.

Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon greeted his US counterpart Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel to mark the US independence day on Thursday evening by telephone.

The two discussed regional developments, according to Ya'alon's spokesperson.

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