by Ilan Evyatar/TPS
Israel will not be bound by any political agreement on Syria’s future as long as the Iranians are part of it and as long as Bashar Assad remains president of the war-torn country, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Sunday.
“There are efforts to reach an arrangement. This does not obligate us,” Liberman told a briefing of military reporters at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv. “We will not accept any agreement in which the Iranians are involved. Regardless, we reserve the right to freedom of action and we will operate in accordance with our own security interests.”
The only acceptable agreement to Israel, Liberman said, would be one that included the withdrawal of Iran and its proxies from Syria, along with the removal from power of Assad.
“We will not agree to an arrangement that legitimizes Assad after he killed civilians and used chemical weapons,” continued Liberman. “We cannot accept the ‘axis of evil.’ We will continue to assist Syrians in the vicinity of the border with the provision of basic goods and medical treatment as we have done so far for approximately 3,000 people.”
A fifth round of peace talks between Russia, Syria, Turkey, and Iran is scheduled to take place in the Kazakh capital of Astana talks this week, July 4-5.
Liberman also addressed recent reports of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps building an underground precision-guided missile factory in Lebanon to arm Hezbollah.
“We are aware of the phenomenon, and we know what needs to be done,” said Liberman. “In the past year, Iran has been working to establish an accurate production infrastructure for both Lebanon and Yemen. We cannot and will not remain indifferent to this.”
Liberman’s statements echoed Prime Minister Netanyahu’s sentiments expressed last Thursday at a ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the town of Katzrin, the largest Jewish community in the Golan Heights. Netanyahu said Israel would not allow radical Islam, led by Iran or ISIS, to establish a terrorist front against the State of Israel from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.