Liberman warns that Israel will topple Assad if he attacks

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman says Assad's threats can not go without response.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
September 9, 2013 22:14
1 minute read.
Former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman at press conference, March 18, 2013

Liberman 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

 
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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.

Speaking following 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 me.

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 congressional approval.

“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.”

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