The daily Maariv, quoting “foreign sources”, reports that Israel does prefer to see the fall of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. A number of weeks ago, Jerusalem appeared divided, with some members of the intelligence community favoring the defeat of the Islamic rebels while others wished to see Assad’s demise. Those wishing to see the rebels defeated explain the past decades regarding Syria have been peaceful and Assad in power gives Israel this assurance. These intelligence officials feel that if the rebels rise to power, Israel hasn’t a clue as to how stable the regime will be and just how hostile they will be towards Israel and how the new rule will impact the Golan Heights border.
Maariv reports that today that the government is hoping that Assad will fall nonetheless, for the feeling is that if the rebels succeed in toppling the current regime it will deliver a power blow to the so-called axis of evil, which includes Syria, Iran and Hizbullah. This seems to trump dreams of guaranteed Golan Heights tranquility, with intelligence expects well aware of the growing threats from Iran and Hizbullah.
This report quoting foreign sources contradicts recent reports that during his visit to Russia, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Israel agrees with him, that it is preferable that Assad defeats the rebel forces.
It is now being explained that Israel wished to crush Assad some time ago, before the civil war erupted. It is Syria that permits and assists the weapons supply train from Iran to Hizbullah in southern Lebanon.
“Israel was interested in overthrowing the Assad long before the war began in Syria. Assad has developed nuclear weapons and ammunition and missiles ran regularly from Iran. Israel would be interested in his fall. This position has not changed during the war years,” says one official.
This theory is in line with remarks made in a briefing to the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee recently by Minister of Intelligence & Strategic Affairs (Likud) Dr. Yuval Steinitz. Steinitz explained that for Israel, it is better to see Assad fall to the rebel forces. Steinitz met last Thursday with Russian Ambassador to Israel Sergei Yakovlev. Next Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin will travel to Russia.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)