Lieberman: Israel's Interest Is a Syria Without Assad or the Iranians

The defense minister warns settlers that he won't tolerate any violence against soldiers during the evacuation of Amona.

A Syrian government soldier in Aleppo, Syria, November 28, 2016.
A Syrian government soldier in Aleppo, Syria, November 28, 2016. SANA/REUTERS

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday that Israel's interest lay in "having both Assad and the Iranians out of Syria." Lieberman was speaking at the opening of the Limmud FSU conference in Eilat.

Asked about the massacre of more than 500,000 people in the Syrian civil war and the recent siege of Aleppo, Lieberman said: “Assad is a butcher, who has slaughtered and murdered hundreds of thousands of people, including by using chemical weapons. In my opinion, he should be removed from power – and we should block Iranian involvement in Syria.”

When asked if Israel should get involved in Syria, Lieberman said: “Where is the international community? It's a shame that instead of focusing on the very unfortunate fact that 500 people are killed in the Middle East every day, the international community would rather criticize Israel for every new balcony built on a settlement.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman at Knesset. December 2016.
Photo: Emil Salman

Regarding Amona, the West Bank outpost that is due to be evacuated by December 25, Lieberman said that he was sorry the residents of the outpost had not accepted the solution offered them, which he said was the best possible in the circumstances. But he stressed that he will not show any understanding or tolerance in the face of violence against soldiers and members of the other security services.

"I hear talk about violent resistance," the defense minister said. "I call on all the residents of Amona and the visitors who join them to take it off the agenda."

Lieberman also addressed the peace process, saying: “Any peace agreement should be based on populated-area exchange, which should also include Israeli Arabs who consider themselves to be Palestinian.”

“Territory transfers have worked successfully throughout history, and the principle conforms with international law,” he added.