The fall of Syrian President Bashar Assad is not something Israel will mourn, even though it is not clear who will come after him, National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday.

“I don’t know what will be in Syria in the future,” Landau said. “The only thing I know is that if he falls there will be big short-term advantages. First, it is a heavy blow to Iran, since Assad is their most important ally.”

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Also, he said, Assad’s removal would be a “heavy blow” to Hezbollah. And, since the upper echelon of Syria’s military is made up of members of Assad’s Alawite sect, “the Syrians will deal with them, and its military will be preoccupied for the next number of years.”

Landau did not seem concerned the Iranians could replace Assad with a puppet regime of their own, saying “Assad is the best king for Iran.


Who will they put in his place?” Furthermore, said Landau, Assad’s collapse also shows Turkey – which in recent years moved closer to Damascus and signed numerous agreements with the government there – that it can’t depend on Arab countries, and that agreements “signed with them today can be turned on their head overnight.”

Landau expressed a great deal of concern about the changing situation and volatility in the Middle East, saying even he is worried about the Libyan rebels who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi.

Did anyone do due diligence on them?,” Landau asked. “Do we know who they are, or who backs them? I want to know who is behind them. Because if it is the Islamists, then we certainly have that to be worried about.”

His concern is not only that Libyan arms could make their way into Gaza, as has been reported in recent weeks, but also because “this could add to the wave of Islamic fundamentalists in the Middle East, could strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and strengthen extremists in Algeria.”

Turning to September and the Palestinian intention to seek statehood recognition at the UN, the Israel Beiteinu minister echoed what his party leader Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said over the last few weeks: that Israel should cut off all ties with the PA.

“If this decision goes through the UN in September, the significance is that the chances for peace negotiations will be pushed back for years.

They will have learned that if it is possible to bring everything to the UN, and get what they want there. Then what reason do they have to negotiate and pay the price of a com-promise.”

Landau, who in recent weeks was sent by the Foreign Ministry to Chile and Colombia, and then to Australia, to lobby the governments there against supporting the PA’s UN resolution, said his message was “those who are truly interested in peace need to work against this resolution with all their strength.”

Landau said he was unaware of a discussion inside the cabinet on how Israel should react if the resolution passed, but his recommendation would be that if the resolution went through, Israel should make clear that all previous agreements with the Palestinians were null and void – since by going to the UN the Palestinians would be abrogating the Oslo agreements that stipulated that both agreements and the final status of the territories would be determined through negotiations.

In addition, Landau said Israel should unilaterally declare its sovereignty over the large settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley – areas he said were within the “Israeli consensus.”

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