Washington, July 20 — Israel would like to see a better future for the Syrian people and longs for peace with its neighbor but won’t interfere with the revolution occurring there, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Al Arabiya in an interview to be broadcast Thursday (July 21).
“We obviously would like to have peaceful relationships with Syria and we could only hope for a good future for the people of Syria. They deserve a good future. One of peace and one of freedom,” Netanyahu said. In Israel’s ongoing quest for peace, Netanyahu said he is “willing to negotiate peace with anyone that’s willing to accept the right of his people and his country.”
The Israeli prime minister also said Syrians are showing “enormous courage” during the deadly crackdown by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In the city of Homs, sectarian violence between the ruling Alawite minority and the Sunni majority claimedscores of lives on Monday. On Tuesday, security forces killed 13 people attending funerals of the victims.
In a separate interview, Netanyahu expressed concern about the continued flow of arms from Syria to Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based terrorist group also backed by Iran. Netanyahu made the comments while meeting in Jerusalem Tuesday (July 19) with U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen whose visit focused on Iran’s nuclear threat and the Islamic Republic’s growing involvement in the region.
Iran’s backing of the Syria Assad regime has harmed Syrian people as well as those of Lebanon, which Hezbollah uses as a base, Netanyahu told Al Arabiya.
“…what has also disturbed us is that Syria supports and has supported Hezbollah and Iran and Lebanon,”Netanyahu said. “The people of Lebanon under five years ago wanted to have their Cedar Revolution. Iran took it away from them with Hezbollah and with Syrian supporters.”
For Iran, Syria is the “weak link” in its fight for control over the Middle East, according to Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, writing for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. The Islamic Republic, he said, views the so-called ‘Arab spring’ “as a golden opportunity to export Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic Revolution to the changing Arab world.”