Israel will ensure that Syrian leader Bashar Assad will not remain in power if
he attacks Israel, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman
Avigdor Liberman (Likud Beytenu) said Monday.
The statement was the
clearest warning to Assad delivered by a top Israeli figure since the escalation
of tension between Syria and the United States.
Assad’s warnings of “repercussions” if America struck his country, Liberman said
such threats could not go without response.
“The supreme Israeli interest
is to remain outside the conflict,” Liberman wrote on his Facebook page. “There
are many figures trying to drag us in. We have successfully avoided that and we
should continue in the future. That is why Bashar Assad’s threats in various
media outlets to expand the conflict to neighboring countries bother
Israel has no interest, will or intention to take part in the Syrian
civil war, but Assad must understand in the clearest way possible that if he and
his regime do not leave us a choice and he attacks Israel or transfers chemical
weapons to Hezbollah, Israel will respond in the harshest way possible,
including toppling his regime.”
Liberman complained that the Syrian civil
war had become “the cruelest conflict of the 21st century” and that there was no
end in sight. He said there was no quick military or diplomatic solution that
would be satisfactory.
Mentioning the United States, Britain, China,
Russia and the United Nations, Liberman said the entire world had an interest in
stopping the bloodshed, adding that the failure of the international community
thus far at that task was very worrying.
In a speech to Yisrael Beytenu
activists last week, Liberman was careful to heed Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu’s request not to respond to US President Barack Obama’s controversial
decision to wait to decide whether to attack Syria until he received
“We aren’t the reason for what is happening in
Syria,” Liberman told the crowd. “The entire civil war did not start because of
Israel or because of our conflict with the Palestinians.
We have no
interest in becoming part of what is happening there. But I recommend not
testing us or dragging us in, because we are ready.”