Yaalon: We Don't Interfere in Other Countries, But...
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (Likud) said on Tuesday that Israel does not interfere in the affairs of neighboring countries, but it does act when its red lines are crossed.
Speaking at the Tze’elim training base in southern Israel, Yaalon said, "We’ve established red lines regarding our interests and we maintain them. Whenever there is an explosion or attack over there, the Middle East blames us anyway.”
He added, "The civil war in Syria has long ago spilled into Lebanon. Hizbullah joined the fighting in Syria, and we see inside Lebanon - in Tripoli, Sidon and Beirut - reports like the ones we had today, that a car bomb exploded there. This is a war by Shiites against Sunnis, also inside Lebanon. We are not a part of it and were not interfering with it.”
Yaalon predicted that the changes in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt are all part of a process that will take a long time. Referring to Egypt, where the army last week ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, the Defense Minister said, "We are closely monitoring and following the developments in Egypt in order to protect our interests, whether it is the regime's commitment to the peace agreement, and whether it is the security situation in the Sinai.”
“What is happening in Egypt reflects the chronic instability in the Middle East in the foreseeable future. We also do not interfere in the internal political battles in Egypt,” he added.
"Egypt is committed to ensure that terror attacks against us do not originate from its sovereign territory, including the smuggling of arms, which used to happen at a larger scale than today,” said Yaalon.
The minister also spoke about Iran's nuclear program and said that Israel is following the developments in Iran following the presidential election in that country.
"Our policy is very clear: one way or another the Iranian nuclear program should be stopped. If the international community is able to stop the project through successful diplomatic negotiations or economic sanctions, we will be the first ones to welcome it,” said Yaalon.
"But,” he continued, “if the Iranian leadership will take advantage of the diplomatic negotiations to ease the economic sanctions and then continue to enrich uranium, this, of course, we will not be able to ignore.”