Israel worried about possible new Russia-Syria arms deals
Russia intends to provide Syria with SA-18 anti-aircraft missiles; J'lem favors sanctions on Damascus, Tehran.
Israel has expressed concern over Russia's intention to sign new arms deals with Syria, following the already completed deal to provide Syria with SA-18 anti-aircraft missiles. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, who is scheduled to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday, will tell him of Israel's objection to the sale of more weapons to Syria, a political source in Jerusalem said Tuesday.
The source said Israel supports imposing sanctions on Syria and Iran.
"We believe sanctions should be imposed on any state that supports terror," he said.
But Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying Wednesday that Russia will do all it takes to block any attempt to slap economic sanctions against Damascus.
"Russia will do everything necessary to stop attempts to introduce sanctions against Syria," spokesman Mikhail Kalmynin told Interfax news agency and other Russian media on the sidelines of Lavrov's trip to Israel.
The Jerusalem source, meanwhile, said Syria was undermining the stability in the area. "Any cooperation with [Syria], especially when it comes to sensitive issues such as the supply of weapons, will cause more instability," the source added.
The source said Syria was still providing arms to Hezbollah and Ahmed Jibril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine organization in Lebanon.
"Weapons sold to the Syrians could reach the terror organizations in Lebanon," the source said.
The Israeli cabinet has yet to discuss the report released by UN investigator Detlev Mehlis about the assassination of Lebanese leader Rafik Hariri and the debate in the UN Security Council on Tuesday. Sharon advocates keeping a low profile and not intervening in the crisis.
Israel welcomes pressure on Syria, which may change its conduct and even lead to the closure of Hamas and Islamic Jihad headquarters in Damascus.
However, Israel's leadership is at odds over whether Syrian President Bashar Assad's continued rule would serve Israel's interest or whether Israel should strive to topple his regime.
Sharon is also expected to tell the Russian foreign minister on Thursday that Israel supports imposing sanctions on Iran due to its nuclear plan. He will warn Lavrov of the grave threat that an Iranian nuclear bomb would pose.