The US must take action in Syria to send a message that Syrian leader Bashar
Assad’s use of chemical weapons cannot be tolerated, Labor leadership candidate
Isaac Herzog said Monday.
Herzog has built close ties with figures in the
Syrian opposition over the past two years. He said he warned correctly at the
start of the Syrian civil war that if the international community failed to
intervene militarily, the situation in the war-torn country would deteriorate
“The rogue states have to be told that there are lines
that cannot be crossed,” Herzog said.
“The Middle East sees the US as the
leader of the free world, so the message of President Obama is reverberating
loud and clear. He’s taking the lead and trying to get clear support, though he
has been limited by Russian and Chinese vetos.”
Herzog stopped short of
criticizing Obama for not attacking Syria already. He said Israel needed to take
a back-seat role and continue cooperating with the US, as adverse developments
continue in Syria.
“I can understand the president’s need to get support
from Congress, but as an Israeli leader, there are moments when you don’t have
any choice,” he said. “If the rogue states see that nothing will happen after
Assad slaughters his own people with chemical weapons, the message will be that
there is no world order.”
Herzog said he disagrees with those who believe
an attack on Assad would help al-Qaida.
He said he believes the Syrian
opposition would democratically choose leadership that would be secular and
could bring stability.Crisis in Syria - full JPost.com coverage
Neither Herzog, nor his competition in the Labor
race, opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich, would address reports that Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had been enlisted by Obama to draft support in
Congress for a strike on Syria.
“Due to the sensitivity and complexity of
the situation, she will not publicly address the issue [of Netanyahu’s
involvement],” a spokeswoman for Yacimovich said. “The blabber on this issue
should be kept to a minimum.”
Speaking more generally on Syria,
Yacimovich said: “The world cannot remain indifferent and stand aside when a
leader slaughters his people with gas, which is a crime against humanity. The
friendship and the bond with the US is a top strategic asset for us. We must
appreciate the US taking upon itself the ethical leadership of the international
community on this issue.”
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