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Clinton's remarks on Israeli democracy spark lawmakers' ire

Monday December 05, 2011 06:51:13 AM, IANS

Jerusalem: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Saturday's remarks voicing concerns about Israel's democracy and women's rights in the country have anguished some Jewish lawmakers who view her comments as "exaggerated."

Speaking at the Saban Forum in Washington, Clinton said her concerns were caused by Israel's recently passed legislation that limits foreign funding for non-governmental organisations (NGOs), Xinhua reported.

Clinton, who made her remarks to some Israeli officials at a closed session of the forum, also talked about the growing exclusion of women from the Israeli public society.

She cited the gender segregation on certain bus lines as well as religious soldiers who refuse to attend women's performances, and compared the phenomena to that of Iran, the Ha'aretz daily reported.

Several Israeli ministers, however, strongly disapproved Clinton's claims that Israel's democracy was deteriorating.

"The Israeli democracy is alive, liberal and breathing," said Israel's Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz while calling Clinton's comments "completely exaggerated".

Comparing Israel with the West, Steinitz said: "I don't know many better democracies in the world," while cautioning that "it is of course necessary to fix things sometimes".

Also, the country's Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan suggested Clinton should pay attention to US domestic affairs, rather than those in other countries.

Clinton's remarks, however, found support of Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who thought the US secretary of state's comments should "wake up all those that are still blind to the murky cloud that is passing over Israel".






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