Strategic Affairs and Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said Sunday that Israel was not involved in the chaos in Syria, but if Israel was dragged into the conflict, it would respond in a manner appropriate to defend the country.
Steinitz was speaking Sunday at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism's (ICT) World Summit on Counter-Terrorism, taking place at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Steinitz said that “Israel's policy is balanced and clear. We are not interested in taking part in the fighting beyond our borders or in intervening in Syria.
“With that, if we are attacked or if our most important interests are endangered, we will respond 'with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,'” Steinitz said, using a Biblical phrase.
“Like the rest of the world, we are shocked at what has been going on in Syria, and cannot remain apathetic,” said Steinitz. “With the dangers inherent in the disorder in our region, the importance of international action to keep order in the region rises. We must look at the events in the region in order of importance: We believe that Egypt will succeed in recovering from a security and economic viewpoint, but there is one issue that overrides both Egypt and Syria, and that is the Iranian nuclear program. This is an overwhelming upsetting of the international order,” Steinitz said.
Steinitz urged listeners not to be fooled by what he called the “double messages” coming out of Iran. While one would think that the new Iranian government would be more reasonable and willing to accept Israel's existence, based on the relatively mild comments made by new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, “Iran's centrifuges continue to operate. We must judge Iran not by its words, but by its actions, not by its short-term 'gestures,' but by its long-term activities,” Steinitz said.