Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Israeli president says Syrian leader Assad must go

Syrian leader Bashar Assad must step down, Israel's president declared Tuesday, sending his message to Israel's neighbor at an unprecedented news conference with Arab media.

Israel's government has largely kept quiet as anti-government protests swept the Arab world in recent months. While some Israeli officials have predicted the Assad regime will fall, President Shimon Peres' comments marked the first time an Israeli leader has openly called for the end of the Syrian regime.

Peres only has a ceremonial role as Israel's president, but is considered Israel's elder statesman and, as a Nobel peace laureate, is well known beyond Israel's borders.

Peres alleged that Assad's forces killed some 2,000 civilians and imprisoned tens of thousands during the four-month-old uprising. "Assad must go," Peres said. "The sooner he will leave, the better it will be for his people," Peres said.

Syrian rights groups have put the death toll at more than 1,600.

Peres also praised the protesters. "It is easy to go out and demonstrate, but when they shoot at you? It is amazing," the president said. "Their courage and firm stance are honorable."

He suggested that regime change could help pave the way for an eventual peace treaty between Israel and Syria.

"Those who seek peace will prevail," he said. (more)