Israel's Shimon Peres 'full of hope' for Libyan protesters

Colonel Gaddafi

Colonel Gaddafi

Israel’s President has described it as an “irony of history” that Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi is facing an uprising in his own country less than two weeks after calling for revolution across the Arab world.

Speaking during a visit to Madrid, Shimon Peres said: "Gaddafi said he prefers a Middle East without the State of Israel.

“Today we might reach a situation where there is a Libya, but without Gaddafi."

After the collapse of the regime of President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Colonel Gaddafi said: "This is a time of popular revolutions” and called on the Palestinians to rise up against Israel.

Mr Peres added that he was full of hope that "the moderate, the young, those who want democracy” would triumph over “The tyrants, the dictators, [and] the corrupt."

The protests, which began in earnest on February 17 with a “Day of Rage”, have showed no sign of subsiding. More than 200 Libyans are believed to have been killed in the unrest, which has seen perhaps the bloodiest crackdown on any of the recent Arab uprisings.

Colonel Gaddafi, who has ruled Libya since 1969, has so far refused to step down. In an address on state television, his son and close adviser Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said: "We will fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet."

Last updated: 2:42pm, February 23 2011