Israeli Foreign Minister warns Syrian regime

Israeli Foreign Minister has warned Syrian President saying that it will topple his regime if Syria attacked Israel.

Updated: Feb 05, 2010, 11:25 AM IST

Tel Aviv: Israeli Foreign Minister has warned Syrian President saying that it will topple his regime if Syria attacked Israel.
The minister said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should know that if he attacked Israel, the Israelis would not only defeat him, but also topple his regime.

"This is the message that should go out to the ruler of Syria from Israel," Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday in remarks at Bar Ilan University, near Tel Aviv, broadcast on Israel Radio.

"In the next war, not only will you lose. Neither you nor the Assad family will remain in power," said Lieberman, of the ultra-nationalist Israel Beitenu, the largest coalition partner of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu`s Likud party.

Several hours after Lieberman`s comments, Netanyahu, in a possible attempt at damage control, instructed his ministers to refrain from discussing Syria to the media.

The Premier met with Lieberman, and the two issued a statement that while Israel wanted peace talks with Syria without preconditions, it would also react forcefully against any threats.

The Lieberman-Netanayhu statement came after the remark by the hardline Foreign Minister sparked outraged reactions from Israeli lawmakers from the centre to the left, with the largest opposition party calling them "irresponsible".

The Netanyahu government is "playing with fire", the centrist Kadima opposition party said in a statement.

"In the absence of a clear political leadership, any irresponsible minister can issue threats about all-out war. Instead of calming tempers, official Israel is fanning the flames," it said.

Eitan Cabel, a member of the leftist Labour Party, Netanyahu`s second largest coalition partner, called on Netanyahu to sack his "war-provoking foreign minister".

Haim Oron, of the left-liberal Meretz party said that "a minister of war is sitting in our foreign minister, who has turned Israeli diplomacy into an industry of strife, instead of solving crises." He too urged Netanyahu to sack Lieberman.

The hardline Israeli Foreign Minister in his Bar Ilan University statement also suggested that Assad give up his dream of retrieving the strategic Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syrian in the 1967 war.

"We must bring Syria to the realisation that just as it gave up on the dream of greater Syria and control of Lebanon, just as it gave up on the Iskandaron district to Turkey, so it will have to give up on its ultimate demand for the Golan Heights," he said.