Israeli FM threatens to topple Assad in any future war

Israel's outspoken foreign minister threatened Thursday to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in any future war.

Israeli FM threatens to topple Assad in any future war

Israel's foreign minister  threatened Thursday to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in any future war.

Avigdor Lieberman's remarks clashed with Netanyahu's call for Assad to negotiate peace with Israel and prompted the Israeli leader to discuss what a spokesman termed "the Syrian issue" with the ultranationalist cabinet member.

"Our message must be clear to Assad. You will not just lose the next war, you and your family will lose power. Neither you nor the Assad family will remain in power," Lieberman said, making the conflict personal.

Lieberman also told Syria to abandon its dreams of recovering the Israeli-held Golan Heights in a speech that ratcheted up simmering political tensions between the two longtime foes and sparked an urgent damage control campaign from the prime minister's office.

Assad had accused Israel on Wednesday of pushing for war and said that the Jewish State was the one avoiding peace.

Some lawmakers urged Netanyahu to dismiss him for threatening Syria.

But in a bid to minimise the fallout from Lieberman's remarks, the prime minister's office issued a statement saying Netanyahu told his cabinet secretary to phone ministers and "ask them to avoid speaking in the media about Syria".

Lieberman heads the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu faction. He has stirred controversy before with statements that Israeli-Arab lawmakers who meet Palestinian fighters should be executed and that the president of Egypt could "go to hell." He later apologized for the comment directed at the Egyptian leader.

Assad spoke out two days after Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, sounding a cautionary note, said "the absence of an agreement with Syria could lead to armed conflict that could develop into all-out war".

Indirect negotiations between Syria and Israel, mediated by Turkey, broke down during the Israeli invasion of Gaza in December 2008.

Agencies

Last Mod: 04 Şubat 2010, 21:19
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