Netanyahu: Mistake to think Israel prefers Assad to rebels

Israel’s Prime Minister corrects the Times of London report that quoted a senior Israeli intelligence officer saying, he ‘does not represent the gov’t’s position,’.

 

 

A Friday report in the Times of London, according to which Israel prefers the regime of Bashar Assad than see a takeover of the country by rebel Islamist militants, is untrue, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a meeting of Likud ministers on Sunday.

Syria - Reuters

A man stands in a damaged street filled with rubble in Deir al-Zor, May 18, 2013. Picture taken May 18, 2013. – Photo: Reuters

 

“The statements attributed to an Israeli intelligence officer do not represent the Israeli government’s position,” Netanyahu said, according to a source present at the meeting.

The prime minister stressed that Israel is not intervening in the Syrian civil war and is not taking a position concerning who should rule the country.

The Israeli official told the Times: “Better the devil we know than the demons we can only imagine if Syria falls into chaos, and the extremists from across the Arab world gain a foothold there.”

According to the Times, the senior intelligence officer in the north of Israel said a weakened but stable Syria under Assad is not only better for Israel but for the region as a whole.

Another defense official was quoted saying it is more likely than initially estimated that Assad will remain in power.

“We originally underestimated Assad’s staying power and overestimated the rebels’ fighting power,” the source said.

The report in the Times comes a day after the United States said the Russian missile shipment to Syria will embolden Assad and prolong the conflict.

 

View original HAARETZ publication at: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/netanyahu-not-true-that-israel-prefers-assad-to-rebels-1.524764  

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