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Israeli PM answers questions from Arab Internet surfers

(Xinhua)

08:19, January 31, 2012

JERUSALEM, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday answered questions on Facebook from Arab Internet users regarding issues, including the ongoing turmoil in Arab nations and the peace process with the Palestinians.

For the first time, the Prime Minister's Office, through their Facebook page in Arabic, allowed users to pose questions that were answered via a translator from Hebrew to Arabic.

More than 700 visitors from Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, the Gulf states, North Africa and the Palestinian National Authority, as well as Israeli Arabs posed hundreds of questions.

Regarding the peace process with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said that, "I am ready at this moment to go to Ramallah and begin talks with Abu Mazen (nom de guerre of Mahmoud Abbas) without preconditions. To my regret, Abu Mazen is not prepared to come to my office. I think that this is a mistake."

Netanyahu also hoped for a peaceful democratic transition for the Arab countries stricken by the unrest.

"Increasing freedom within these countries will aid their prosperity. Increasing freedom of information could aid peace."

However, when answering another question, he said that the Arab countries should change their diplomatic take on Israel.

"The Arab world still has stigmas and stereotypes about the state of Israel that have no bearing on reality."

In this line, Netanyahu also stressed the common interests Israel shares with Saudi Arabia.

"We have many common interests that we could advance regarding the economy and regional policy. I believe that, like us, Saudi Arabia sees that there is a great danger in the spread of terrorism by extremist elements," he wrote.

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