Netanyahu: Efforts to Disarm Syria, Stop Nuclear Iran Will Be Judged by Results

In address at memorial marking 40 years since Yom Kippur War, Netanyahu also says Syria deal must yield 'complete destruction' of chemical weapons arsenal.

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Haaretz
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel hoped a U.S.-Russian deal to remove Syria's chemical weapons would result in the "complete destruction" of the arsenal, and urged the international community to apply the same efforts to destroying Iran's nuclear program.

"We hope the understandings reached between the United States and Russia regarding the Syrian chemical weapons will yield results," he said in a speech at a memorial ceremony for Israeli soldiers killed in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

"These understandings will be judged by their result - the complete destruction of all of the chemical weapons stockpiles that the Syrian regime has used against its own people," he said.

"The test of results is also incumbent on the efforts of the international community to stop Iran's nuclear armament," Netanyahu added. "Here too, it is not words but actions that will determine the outcome."

"In any case, Israel must be prepared and ready to defend itself against every threat, something that is more important today than ever," Netanyahu added.

Netanyahu's address came as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Israel for afternoon talks. Kerry and Netanyahu convened at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem shortly after the memorial to discuss the agreement on Syria and U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

In his own address to the Yom Kippur War memorial shortly before the prime minister's, President Shimon Peres, also called for the military threat that prompted an international agreement to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons arsenal to serve as a lesson for the leaders of Iran.

Peres lauded the regional peace agreements of the last decades, the result of the Yom Kippur War, as the real victory of that seminal conflict.

"The Yom Kippur War was a watershed moment in the Middle East and a turning point in our relations with our neighbors," Peres said. "That was what brought about the first peace with the biggest of the Arab nations – Egypt. Following that, an infrastructure was laid for the basis of a peace agreement with the Palestinians, and subsequently, peace with Jordan."

"Our neighbors learned that warfare invariably will lead to painful disappointment," said Peres. "Peace is the real victory."

But Syria, Peres said, refused to join its Arab neighbors in making peace and was still paying for that mistake.

"Syria, Egypt's partner in the war, refused to be a partner in peace. Syria is being punished for that refusal still today," Peres said. "[Former Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat brought peace to this people. [Syrian President Bashar Assad brought tragedy to his land."

"His land is divided, the blood of its sons spills like water. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have become miserable refugees. The Syrian economy is collapsing. And war continues. He tried to build a nuclear option and failed," Peres said

"Assad has no choice but to commit" to destroying his chemical weapons in accordance with the plan being pushed forward by the U.S. and Russia, Peres said.

"The military threat backing up this agreement to dismantle the weapons must serve as a lesson to the leaders of Iran," Peres added.

Meanwhile, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Avigdor Lieberman said intelligence that Israel has gathered on neighboring Syria could help verify Syrian President Bashar Assad's compliance with the accord.

"We will understand Assad's intentions only in a week when he is meant to hand over a full list of all the chemical weapons at his disposal, and I think Israel has a not bad idea of what chemical weapons he has," Lieberman said.

"The Syria deal is good for Israel – but its test will be in implementation," he said.

Israel will consider ratifying the chemical arms ban only after a "new Middle East" is ushered in, Lieberman said, warning that caution must be exercised with respect to any Syrian commitments. "Assad has a very problematic record on matters of credibility and true intentions," said Lieberman. "Just recently he was still denying that Syria even possesses any chemical weapons."

Benjamin Netanyahu. Illustration by Amos Biderman.Credit: Amos Biderman
President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon at a ceremony marking 40 years since the Yom Kippur War.Credit: Noam Moshkovitz
President Shimon Peres speaking at a memorial marking 40 years since the Yom Kippur War.Credit: Noam Moshkovitz

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