Peres doubts that Syria will wage war against Israel

Syria does not have the deterrence, strength or defense that Israel has at her disposal, President says.

President Shimon Peres with envoys at Rosh Hashana ceremony  (photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
President Shimon Peres with envoys at Rosh Hashana ceremony
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
President Shimon Peres does not believe Syria will wage war against Israel.
At a reception that he hosted on Tuesday for heads of diplomatic missions in Israel and for honorary consuls representing countries that do not have embassies here, Peres said he did not believe Syria would attack Israel because Syria did not have the deterrence, strength or defense that Israel did.
Israel developed sophisticated missiles and had one of the best security forces of modern times, he said.
Peres said he would suggest to every leader to emulate US President Barack Obama and check every possible angle before entering into a war to bring an end to the terrible situation in Syria, rather than to regret his decision afterward.
Syrian President Bashar Assad does not have the right to be a leader after killing 100,000 of his own people, said Peres, who added that it was impossible to remain indifferent to the killing of children by their own leader, or to ignore the suffering of some 2 million Syrian refugees.
What Assad has done, said Peres, “is the worst demonstration of evil.”
Just before the formalities, Peres asked several ambassadors to join him near the entrance to the reception hall to partake of the traditional apple and honey.
Henri Etoundi Essomba, the ambassador of Cameroon who is dean of the diplomatic corps, said after his taste of apple and honey that Israel has long been recognized as a land of milk and honey, but now it also has natural gas.
Essomba reviewed the past year, including the Knesset election in January, and said that a much younger generation of leaders had emerged and had changed the balance of power.
He commended Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for renewing the peace process, a factor that he attributed to the visit of Obama to Israel and the PA and to the efforts of US Secretary of State John Kerry to persuade the two leaders to return to the negotiating table.
Peres said that it had not been simple for either Netanyahu or Abbas. Netanyahu had to overcome certain problems and take risks as he embarked on the unknown – and there were always doubts, said Peres.
Abbas was trying to achieve peace and had maintained his opposition to terrorism, Peres continued, emphasizing that although Abbas comes from Safed, he has expressed no desire to return there.
The very fact that both sides agreed to resume negotiations was a victory for peace, Peres declared.
In assessing the dangers confronting the Middle East and beyond, Peres considered the existential threats of poverty and hunger to be the worst, and said he had hopes for the region because more than 60 percent of the 350 million Arabs living in the Middle East were under the age of 26, and 99 million of these people were registered as online users. He expects that number to double soon and thus expose more Arabs to the modern world of science and technology.
Peres did not see terrorism, which is rampant in the Arab world, as an alternative to war, because nations that go to war, ultimately make peace. In a war soldiers are united, but terrorist groups are not, because they have no policy and no message, said Peres.
“Nothing destroys a nation more than terrorism.”
As a result of terrorism, he said, countries in the Middle East were losing their territorial integrity. “Terrorism is the greatest danger to countries that permit terror. Sooner or later, they become the victims.”
Peres was convinced that Arab countries could improve their economies by giving women access to education and by following Israel’s example in encouraging their human resources to develop their potential for technology and science.
“What we did, all our neighbors can do,” he said. “Our interest is to see a flourishing neighborhood in the Middle East.”
In toasting the New Year together with the diplomats, Peres, making the toast in both Hebrew and English, wished for a year of peace, justice, and prosperity without discrimination for all people.