News / Middle East

Netanyahu: Israel Aims to Stay out of Syria Conflict

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, June 9, 2013.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, June 9, 2013.
Reuters
Israel aims to stay out of Syria's civil war, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, despite violence eroding security on the Golan Heights border area.
    
The strategic plateau, most of which has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 war, saw fierce fighting last week between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces and Syrian rebels near the armistice line patrolled by U.N. peacekeepers.
    
"Israel is not getting involved in the civil war in Syria, as long as the fire is not directed at us," Netanyahu told his cabinet in broadcast remarks.
    
Israel has conducted at least three air strikes on suspected Syrian depots for weaponry in transit to Lebanon's Hezbollah militia and its forces have occasionally shelled Syrian positions in response to shooting at the Israeli side of the Golan.
    
Austria, a major contributor to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), said last week it would withdraw its troops from Golan due to the worsening fighting in Syria, putting the mission in doubt.
    
A United Nations peacekeeping soldier uses binoculars to watch fighting between forces loyal to and opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, from the Golan Heights, June 7, 2013.A United Nations peacekeeping soldier uses binoculars to watch fighting between forces loyal to and opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, from the Golan Heights, June 7, 2013.
x
A United Nations peacekeeping soldier uses binoculars to watch fighting between forces loyal to and opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, from the Golan Heights, June 7, 2013.
A United Nations peacekeeping soldier uses binoculars to watch fighting between forces loyal to and opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, from the Golan Heights, June 7, 2013.
Netanyahu used the situation on the Golan to buttress his long-standing call for an Israeli military presence along the eastern Jordan River border of any future Palestinian state.
    
"The crumbling of the U.N. force on the Golan drives home the fact that Israel cannot rely on international forces for its security," Netanyahu said.
    
He said he would raise the issue with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, expected to return to the region in the coming week to try to revive talks on Palestinian statehood.
    
Israeli cabinet minister Yuval Steinitz said, "We are seeing now what the Austrian forces on the Golan Heights are worth. Israel cannot trust international forces, and sometimes, as it happens, their presence during crises is more burdensome than useful."
    
Netanyahu said he had spoken during the weekend with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the situation in Syria, but gave no details. Moscow is Assad's main big-power ally, whose advanced arms supplied to Damascus worry Israel.
    
A Russian offer to replace Austrian peacekeepers on the Golan was turned down on Friday by the United Nations as the mandate excludes permanent members of the Security Council.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs