'We don't expect Israel help in Syrian hostage crisis'

Filipino ambassador tells the 'Post' Jerusalem should not get actively involved in helping secure the release of 21 Filipino UN peacekeepers in Syria, in order to avoid dragging Israel into the country's civil war.

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March 7, 2013 15:22
1 minute read.
UN peacekeeping force [illustrative]

UN peacekeepers blue helmets. (photo credit: Ali Hashisho / Reuters)

 
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The Philippines does not expect any concrete action by Israel to help free 21 Filipino UN peacekeepers taken hostage Wednesday, in order to avoid dragging Israel into Syria's conflict, the country's ambassador said Thursday.

"I don't believe Israel should do anything, except share with us information  that it might learn,"  Generoso Calonge told The Jerusalem Post. "I don't expect them to do anything actively or proactively. I would not want Israel dragged in."

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The ambassador said the UN was conducting the negotiations for the peacekeepers who were taken hostage in the Golan Heights ceasefire zone by Syrian rebels. The 21 peacekeepers are part of a 333-strong Filipino contingent to the UN Disengagement Force.

India, Austria and Croatia are the other countries that make up the 1000-strong force.

Calogne said that as of two-weeks ago Manila was set on keeping its forces in the area, but had readied a contingency plan for their immediate withdrawal. "I don't know if this will change the dynamics," he said, referring to the hostage crisis.

Calogne said he had heard throughout the day from both government officials and private Israeli citizens expressing their support and concern.

Meanwhile, Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's Defense diplomatic-security bureau, told Israel Radio that the UN could be "trusted to persuade" the rebels to free the hostages. He said the rebels were not keen on "getting into a confrontation with the international community."

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