Peres: World can't stand idly by in Syria

President calls Assad a "murderer"; diplomatic officials: Jordan unlikely to return envoy to Israel anytime soon.

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
February 14, 2012 01:04
2 minute read.
Anti-Assad protest

Anti-Assad protest where is the world 390. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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President Bashar Assad is a “murderer” without a future, President Shimon Peres said on Monday in the harshest public statement yet by an Israeli leader about the situation in Syria.

Assad is killing men, women and children, and “it is forbidden for the citizens for the world to stand to the side,” Peres said before a meeting with visiting Croatian President Ivo Josipovic.

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Peres praised the Syrians taking to the streets daily against Assad and showing “courage under fire.”

“I must say that the fact that the Arab League turned to the UN for the first time with a request to send military forces to save the citizens and children of Syria is very important in the struggle for freedom, democracy and preserving the dignity of man and the Syrian people,” he said.

Peres’s comments came amid a perception among some in the Arab world that Israel – out of a preference for “the devil it knows” – is interested in seeing Assad remain in power. In an apparent effort to dispel this thinking, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said in an Army Radio interview last week that any alternative to Assad would be better for Israel.

Israel, according to diplomatic sources, is walking a delicate balancing act, not wanting to be perceived as intervening in Syrian affairs, and concerned that anything it says will be turned against it. The officials said that the opposing forces in Syria are busy casting aspersions upon each other by saying that the other side either supports or is being aided by Israel.

Peres also told his Croatian counterpart that it was very important for Israel to maintain its peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt during this period of regional instability.

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One diplomatic official said that while Israel would like to see Jordan return its ambassador to Israel, this is unlikely now because of Amman’s concern that this could complicate matters domestically for King Abdullah II.

The Jordanian Embassy in Tel Aviv has been without an ambassador for nearly two years, since Abdullah appointed Ali Al Ayed, the former envoy, as Jordan’s minister of media affairs and communications in July 2010. Amman did not name a replacement. While Israel would like to see the return of an envoy, it understands the constraints that Abdullah is working under, the official said.


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Diplomatic officials have characterized the coordination between Amman and Jerusalem as “very close,” something apparent in Jordan’s decision last month to host low-level talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Nevertheless, the coordination is at the governmental level, with a high-degree of anti-normalization feeling toward Israel among large segments of the population, similar to what exists in Egypt.

Also on Monday, Israel rebuked Assad at the United Nations, saying he had lost his legitimacy to lead the country.

Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor called on the international community to step up its actions against Syria to help stop the violence that has left thousands of Syrian protesters dead.

"The image of frightened women and children in the streets of Homs weighs on our consciousness," he told the General Assembly. "The international community must act immediately to stop the systematic murder of innocent women and children."

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