In a speech held at the Washington Institute yesterday, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres said that the military threat coming from Syria does not bother him.
“They know the strengths and weaknesses of their army. Their equipment is old and they will not go to war alone. Until today Syria has enjoyed both worlds, now they have to decide if they belong to the terrorism camp or the anti-terrorism camp,” said Peres.
Peres arrived to the United States on a public diplomacy mission on behalf of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Peres met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor Steven Hadley, and Senator Hillary Clinton.
Peres added that the Syrians are weak, their economy is in shambles, and their military is deteriorated: their officers are old and their equipment is even older.
In his speech Peres spoke about the leadership of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad saying he was “the son of a smart leader.”
Peres also took a shot at Iran saying that it is a poor country which takes its power from the ineptitude of the international community. He called president Ahmadinejad a “crazy leader.” He added that the ultimatum that the UN Security Council will place on Iran to stop enriching uranium is the first sign of international unity. “If there is no unity in this matter, Iran would continue to misbehave and make a mockery of the world. The Iranian Nuclear problem is more important than the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.”
In reaction to the Kfar Qana incident Peres said that “we did not bomb the cities of Beirut or Tyre, but the Hizballah headquarters in those cities. All of us in Israel are extremely sad and sorry about hurting civilians. There are no wars without mistakes – the biggest mistake is war itself. Nobody wanted to bomb the Chinese embassy in Kosovo. Ten thousand people got killed there and nobody spoke about proportions.”
Peres added that the deployment of a multinational force in Lebanon, with out a ceasefire, will be meaningless. He stressed there are many difficulties in assembling the multinational force.
Peres also met with officials from the US media, heads of the Jewish organizations, and spoke before the Council on Foreign Relations.
During his visit Peres met with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who gave him the Israeli flag found in the wreckage of the World Trade Center after the attacks of September 11 in 2001.
In the picture, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Shimon Peres and Israeli Consul General in New York Arye Mekel.
The picture is courtesy of the Consulate General of Israel in New York.