Israel not target of N Africa turmoil, Israeli deputy PM tells Hungarian diplomats

Budapest, February 16 (MTI) – North African countries are witnessing unprecedented and totally unpredictable events, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor told a conference of diplomats in Budapest on Wednesday.

“Fortunately, the demonstrations are not religiously-motivated or aimed against Israel, but they have triggered demands for a shift towards western-type democracy,” he said.     There had been no preliminary signs for the current turmoil in the Arab world. Neither the United States, nor Israel could foresee these developments, Meridor, who holds the intelligence and atomic energy portfolio in the government, said in a lecture at the Hungarian Institute of International Affairs.       Asked about Israel’s scenarios for the worst and the best cases, he declined to disclose any details, saying that any statement would immediately make headlines in the global press.     Israel seeks to speak cautiously about the transition. It is still to be seen whether Egypt will transform into a genuine democracy or shift towards a radical course, he said.     Meridor stressed Israel’s vested interest in preventing war and Egypt pursuing a peace policy.     ”We can’t do anything but hope for the onset of a freer and more peaceful world,” he said.     The Israeli deputy premier emphasised that ties between Israel and Hungary were stable and good, and called his country’s relations with Hungary important.     Meridor is scheduled to meet Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi on Thursday.

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