Israeli President Shimon Peres has dismissed fears that U.S. plans to arm Syrian rebels could expose the Jewish state’s national security to danger, adding that the world’s “unemployed terrorists” were heading to the region, in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday.
Many Israeli officials warned that arms supplies to Syrian fighters battling against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime could fall in the hands of increasingly radicalized rebels, who could use these weapons later against Israel.
The United States, which has already blacklisted Al-Nusra Front, has said the Islamist Syrian rebel group is affiliated with al-Qaeda. Observers, meanwhile, said radical elements are marginalizing the more moderate rebels.
Republican senator John McCain, who staunchly lobbied for arming Syrian rebels, argued that the U.S. should arm only vetted opposition fighters that Washington could trust.
But Peres also sounded the alarm that the world’s unemployed terrorists were heading to the region, and gradually bringing it into ruin.
“They are killing Lebanon, they are killing Syria, they are killing Iraq. Wherever they are around, they are endangering the Arab identities, their nationalities.”
However, when Reuters asked Peres if the U.S. decision to arm the Syrian rebels was wise, the Israeli president said “Yes.”
“They didn’t have a choice,” he added. “Unfortunately it is becoming more of a confrontation between two superpowers and (there is) a growing intervention of outside forces ... It is a tragedy.”
While U.S. President Barack Obama and Russia’s Vladimir Putin agreed to halt the bloodshed in Syria, the two leaders remained different on how to end the two-year conflict on Monday during the G8 summit in Northern Ireland.
Iran and Palestinian conflicts
In the wide-ranging interview with Reuters before his 9th birthday, Peres rejected the idea that Israel would unilaterally wage a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
“Why should Israel talk about wars and arms? We must understand there are things we cannot do,” Peres said, adding that only the United States could prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Hassan Rowhani said in his first speech as Iran’s new president that Tehran would work to be more transparent on its nuclear program, which has long described as peaceful.
Peres, who is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, urged Palestinians and Israelis to forge immediate peace after stalled talks since 2010 due to the Tel Aviv’s reluctance to freeze its settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Peres will be a host to an international conference this week, which will attract an array of business and political leaders.
However, prominent British scientist Stephen Hawking pulled out of the event last month to protest against Israel’s occupation of territory where the Palestinians want to create an independent state.
Peres described Hawking’s boycott as a mistake.
The leader had a central role for the Oslo Accords, which were signed in 1993 after months of secrecy. The accords promised of an independent Palestinian state within five years after.