PM: Israel's 'finger on the pulse' of Syria developments, if necessary will also be 'on the trigger'
By HERB KEINON
Netanyahu says situation in Syria is "horrible tragedy, crime."
Israel's "finger is on the pulse" following the situation in Syria, and – if needed – will also be on the trigger, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday in his first public comments on reports that hundreds of Syrian were killed last week by chemical weapons.
What is happening in Syria is both a horrible tragedy and crime, he said at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting.
"Our heart goes out to the women, children, babies and citizens killed in such a cruel way through the use of weapons of mass destruction," he added.
Netanyahu said that Israel drew three conclusions from this episode.
"First, this situation cannot continue. Second, it is forbidden for the world's most dangerous regimes to have the most dangerous weapons in the world. And thirdly, we expect this to end, but we remember the ancient adage of our sages: 'If we are not for ourselves, who will be for us' – that is to say, our finger, our hand, will always be on the pulse. Our finger is responsible, and when needed it is also on the trigger."
Netanyahu said that Israel knows how, and will continue to know how, to defend itself against those who want to do it harm.
President Shimon Peres, meeting Sunday morning with visiting French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, said the cries in Syria of a girl "begging her father to come and save her is a cry to which we cannot remain indifferent."
Peres said that the "time has come for a joint effort to remove all the chemical weapons from Syria. They cannot remain there either in the hands of Assad or of others."
He said that while he could "understand the problems and doubts" about intervening in Syria, "the moral call is superior to any strategic considerations." He praised Fabius for speaking out on this issue, and said his voice "has been the clearest in recent days concerning the situation in Syria."
"In addition to everything else needed to stop this massacre there must be an international attempt to take out the weapons. It is very complicated and it is very expensive but it is more dangerous and more expensive to leave it there. It must be done," he said.
Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor)also met with Fabius, together with Labor MK Nachman Shai.
"As a daughter of Holocaust survivors, I cannot stand to see the atrocities in Syria. They're intolerable, and the world cannot stand silent," Yacimovich stated.
Fabius responded that France is consulting with other countries and will not accept a situation in which there is not a strong response to Assad.
Yacimovich also told Fabius that Labor is committed to the peace process and will be a "safety net" for Netanyahu if his coalition is endangered by negotiations.
The Labor leader criticized the European Union's sanctions against Israel, saying that the correct way to intervene is through positive, encouraging steps.
Fabius stated that France is part of the European Union but is open to other practical solutions.