Oren: Assad resigning would hurt Iran, aid Israel

Envoy to US speaks at AIPAC conference, calls Assad "ruthless and reckless," says PA reconciliation with Hamas bad for peace.

Michael Oren 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Michael Oren 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren on Sunday spoke at the annual AIPAC Policy Conference, urging Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down and stop providing weapons to Hezbollah.
Oren compared Assad to his father, former Syrian president Hafez Assad, stating that Hafez was ruthless, "but [Bashar] Assad is ruthless and reckless." Oren added that if Assad did decide to depart from his position, it would cause a "tremendous blow" to Iran and Hezbollah, benefiting Israel, the US, and the entire world.
Iran was a topic that Oren spoke of with a great sense of urgency, pushing the world to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. "Iran is stalling the negotiations, continuing to enrich uranium as talks continue," he said.
Oren accused Iran of attempting "to deceive the West and advance their nuclear program."
He stated that the Islamic Republic wants to dominate the Middle East and wipe Israel off the map. Oren emphasized the dangerous situation that would be created if the world's most "radical ideology" was equipped with the most extreme weapons.
The ambassador also addressed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas' efforts to reconcile with Hamas.
"We hope Abbas won't follow through with reconciliation with Hamas," Oren said, claiming that such a move would compromise a chance for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
He insisted that the US shares "the desire to reanimate the peace process." Oren then corrected himself, saying that it is not a peace "process," that they want. "We want peace."
"We don’t want to start negotiations tomorrow. We want to start them today, right now, in Jerusalem, in Ramallah, here in DC," he said.
Oren said that US President Barack Obama's upcoming trip to Israel sends the message that Israel isn't alone. An example of this is the Iron Dome Missile defense system, which would not have been possible without American support, he added.
He concluded by urging Americans to join him in supporting the only "unreservedly pro-American" country in the Middle East.