Avigdor Lieberman and Alain Juppe 311.
(photo credit: Erez Lichtfeld)
PARIS - Iran and Syria pose a greater security threat than Libya and the West should treat those countries in the same way as it has Muammar Gaddafi's government, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday.
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In a brief interview with Reuters after meeting his French counterpart, Alain Juppe, Lieberman also said a recent upsurge of violence on the Gaza border and Wednesday's bomb attack in Jerusalem were "incitement" by the Palestinians.
Western warplanes hit Libyan tanks during a fifth night of airstrikes as they enforced a UN resolution aimed at stopping Gaddafi's counter-offensive against rebels seeking an end to his rule.
Lieberman did not explicitly call for military action against Syria and Iran, but he said: "I think that the same principles, activities the Western world (has taken) in Libya ... I hope to see those regarding the Iranian regime and the Syrian regime."
Syrian security forces fired on hundreds of youth protesters in southern Syria on Wednesday, according to witnesses, in a dramatic escalation of six days of protests in which at least 32 civilians have been killed.
"These two regimes kill more citizens than the Libyan regime does, and the threat from these countries is much more serious than that from Libya," Lieberman said. Iran has also used force to crush pro-democracy street protests in the recent past. Israeli naval commandos seized a cargo ship in the Mediterranean Sea on March 15 carrying what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said were Iranian-supplied weapons intended for Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip."
Lieberman called the surge in violence on the Gaza border and a terrorist attack in Jerusalem a direct result of "incitement" on the Palestinian side.
Peace talks aimed at ending the decades-old conflict between Israel and
the Palestinians broke down last year after Netanyahu refused to extend a
partial freeze on Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank.
"I see a lot of efforts in the Palestinian Authority for reconciliation
with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but I don't see any readiness for direct
talks with Israel," he said. "It is totally unacceptable."
Lieberman said Israel was ready for direct talks with the Palestinians despite the current status quo.
"I believe any change in the peace process must be as a result of direct
talks and not unilateral steps and not as a unilateral decision even of
the international community," he said.