Syria's use of chemical weapons against its own people "simply demonstrates" what will happen if Iran gets even deadlier weapons, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday before a meeting with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
What we see in Syria is how extremist regimes have no reservations whatsoever about using these weapons even when they use it against innocent civilians, against their own people," he said. "In the end, the extremists use these weapons. So we must prevent them from having these weapons."
Following his meeting with Netanyahu, Fabius held a press conference in which he said that there was "no doubt" that Assad regime used chemical weapons in an attack last week in a Damascus suburb..
"I can also tell you that when three is a crime like this, it is inconceivable that it will go without a strong response," he said. Fabius said the response will be "determined and hard," but declined to go into further details.
Netanyahu said Israel and France share an interest in seeing the "tragic" events in Syria come to an end.
"I think what is going on there is a crime committed by the Syrian regime against its own people. It’s truly shocking," he said. adding that the Assad regime was being actively aided and abetted by Iran and Hezbollah.
"In fact, Assad's regime has become a full Iranian client and Syria has become Iran's testing ground," Netanyahu said. "Now the whole world is watching. Iran is watching and it wants to see what would be the reaction on the use of chemical weapons.
Earlier in the day at the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu that Israel's "finger is on the pulse" following the situation in Syria, and – if needed – it's finger will also be on the trigger. These were his said in his first public comments on the reports that hundreds of Syrians were killed last week by chemical weapons,
Netanyahu said that Israel drew three conclusions from this incident.
"One, this situation must not be allowed to continue. Two, the most dangerous regimes in the world must not be allowed to possess the most dangerous weapons in the world. And three, we expect that this will stop, of course, but we must always remember our sages' ancient principle: "If we are not for ourselves, who will be for us? -- That is to say, our finger must always be on the pulse. Ours is a responsible finger and if necessary, it will also be on the trigger."
Netanyahu said that Israel knows how to defend itself against those who want to do it harm.
President Shimon Peres, meeting Sunday morning with Fabius, said the cries in Syria of a girl "begging her father to come and save her is a cry to which we cannot remain indifferent."
Peres said that the "time has come for a joint effort to remove all the chemical weapons from Syria. They cannot remain there either in the hands of Assad or of others."
He said that while he could "understand the problems and doubts" about intervening in Syria, "the moral call is superior to any strategic considerations." He praised Fabius for speaking out on this issue, and said his voice "has been the clearest in recent days concerning the situation in Syria."
"In addition to everything else needed to stop this massacre there must be an international attempt to take out the weapons. It is very complicated and it is very expensive but it is more dangerous and more expensive to leave it there. It must be done," he said.
Fabius said alongside Peres that it was "unthinkable" that once there was proof of chemical weapons used in Syria that there would "not be a strong response by the international community" against those responsible.
"If the international community fails to act following the events in Syria then the people of the world will wonder who can be trusted, on whom can we depend," he said.
Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) also met with Fabius, together with Labor MK Nachman Shai.
"As a daughter of Holocaust survivors, I cannot stand to see the atrocities in Syria. They're intolerable, and the world cannot stand silent," Yacimovich stated.
Fabius responded that France is consulting with other countries and will not accept a situation in which there is not a strong response to Assad.
Yacimovich also told Fabius that Labor is committed to the peace process and will be a "safety net" for Netanyahu if his coalition is endangered by negotiations.
The Labor leader criticized the European Union's sanctions against Israel, saying that the correct way to intervene is through positive, encouraging steps.
Fabius stated that France is part of the European Union but is open to other practical solutions.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid met with Fabius in his office, telling him that "what is happening in Syria is a tragedy, and must be stopped. Dangerous regimes like the one in Syria cannot be allowed to have weapons that harm thousands of innocent civilians."
Lapid also asked Fabius to encourage the European Union to change its decision not to fund research over the Green Line, or at least to freeze it during peace talks with the Palestinians.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said on Sunday that "unconventional weapons have
been used by an unconventional regime" in Syria, following his own meeting
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Jerusalem.
Ya'alon said Syria's
use of chemical weapons in the suburbs of Damascus last week led to the tragic
death of hundreds of innocent civilians, adding, "This isn't the first time that
the regime in Syria, which is supported by Iran and Hezbollah, is using
unconventional weapons. From its perspective, this has become a matter of
Israel is not intervening in the Syrian civil war, the defense
minister stressed, saying, "We have the red lines that we set, and we stand
"We won't allow the transfer of quality weapons to Hezbollah and
other terrorist elements, we won't allow the transfer of chemical weapons, and
we'll respond to any attack on our sovereignty. We say that ultimately we must
protect ourselves by ourselves, responsibly and with sound judgment. We don't
expect foreign armies to do this for us."
Ya'alon also expressed appreciation
for the level of cooperation in place between France and Israel.
Lahav Harkov and Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.
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