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Libyan Unrest Tops Agenda at Israeli Cabinet Meeting

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, second right, at the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, March 6, 2011

The fighting in Libya topped the agenda at the Sunday Israeli Cabinet meeting. Robert Berger reports from the VOA bureau in Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem by denouncing what he described as the "massacre" taking place in Libya.

Netanyahu said it is clear to everyone that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is slaughtering his own people. He said one can only imagine the extent of the bloodshed if Gadhafi had not abandoned his nuclear weapons program in 2003, as part of a deal with the United States and Britain to lift sanctions against Libya.

Netanyahu drew a parallel with Iran's nuclear program, which Israel sees as an existential threat.

He said the government in Iran is also slaughtering its own people, but unlike Libya, he said, it is developing nuclear weapons.

The prime minister said the international community has come to realize that it has a moral responsibility to take a tough stand on Libya. He said the world should show the same determination in dealing with Iran, which he described as a ruthless dictatorship.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but Israel believes Tehran could acquire nuclear weapons within the next few years. So while the world's attention is focused on Libya, Netanyahu sought to remind the international community of what Israel sees as a much more ominous regional threat, and to warn that Iran must be stopped before it is too late.

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