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      Lieberman on Syria: Israel May Have to Respond

      Foreign Affairs and Security Committee chairman says Israel could be drawn into conflict against its will.
      By Gil Ronen and Ari Soffer
      First Publish: 8/27/2013, 12:20 PM

      Avigdor Lieberman
      Avigdor Lieberman
      Hezki Ezra

      Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee Chairman MK Avigdor Lieberman (Likud / Yisrael Beytenu) said Tuesday that Israel does not want to become embroiled in the Syrian conflict, but may have to hit back if it is struck.

      "It is clear that the entire region, and the international community, are treating the Syrian case as a test of the U.S.'s foreign policy and security concept,” Lieberman told IDF Radio. “The president's personal trustworthiness and that of the entire entire American administration are on the line – on the skewer. So is the reputation of American policy and the U.S.'s ability to wield influence, as well as its status as a leading world power.

      "All of this is currently being tested, and that is why everyone is following this alertly,” he explained.

      Lieberman said that Israel does not want to enter the fray against Syria but added, “We may have no choice, but I hope that everyone knows how to read the map correctly and understand that Israel has no interest in entering the whirlpool of the Arab world.”

      The head of Yisrael Beytenu and former foreign minister said that the transfer of chemical weapons to Hezbollah or a missile attack on Israel would require a military response.

      "Syria understands the implications of Israel entering the fray and starting to play an active part,” he said. “We can avoid being sucked in like that, as some elements would like. Our intent has to be not to enter, and only in an extreme case will we may have to respond.”

      His comments came following a warning by a top Syrian official if his country was attacked by western states it would react by attacking Israel.

      Speaking to an Arabic-language radio station, Syria's Deputy Information Minister Halaf Al-Maftah said that Israel would face a coalition consisting of Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria in the event of any attack against Assad. In addition, terrorist groups in Syria and Lebanon would attack Israel with full force, he warned.

      Al-Maftah added that Syria has “strategic weapons” that it would use in its attack on Israel. He did not specify what those weapons were.

      Western intervention in the Syrian civil war is appearing increasingly likely following an alleged chemical attack by the Assad regime on at least two rebel-held suburbs of the capital Damascus.

      Earlier Monday, it was revealed that US President Barack Obama had ordered his legal advisers to draw up a document outlining the legal justifications for military intervention in Syria.

      It has also been reported that western forces could be ready to strike targets in Syria within a week, amid a build up of military forces in Cyprus.