Syria’s agreement in principle to rid itself of chemical weapons after being threatened will reverberate in Tehran, Israeli leaders said Sunday while commemorating the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed cautious optimism over the US-Russian deal, which will begin its implementation with Syria reporting on its chemical weapons stock by the end of the week.
However, he said, the commitments had to backed up by actions, not only in Syria but in Iran as well.
“We hope the understandings bear fruit. Those understandings will be judged by the results,” he said, referring to the total destruction of Syria’s chemical arms, which should take place by mid-2014. “The test of the results also applies to the efforts by the international community to stop Iran’s nuclear armaments. There, too, not words but actions will be the deciding factor.”
Netanyahu added that Israel now needed to have the ability to defend itself more than ever.
“We are now in a different era, in the midst of a regional earthquake, unprecedented since the establishment of the state. We face new threats: missiles, and cyber-weapons of mass destruction,” he said. “Israel will have to be ready to defend itself, by itself, against all threats… That capacity is more important today than ever… and Israel is stronger today than ever.”
President Shimon Peres said “a disarmament agreement backed up by military threat should serve as a lesson to Iranian leaders.”
Both leaders were speaking at a 40-year commemoration at Mount Herzl military cemetery for the Yom Kippur War, which Peres called Israel’s “last great war.”
The president said Syria, which perpetrated a surprise attack on Israel together with Egypt during Judaism’s holiest day in 1973, had refused to become a partner in peace after the war, and was still paying the price for it today.
He added that Syrian President Bashar Assad had “no choice” but to submit to the chemical arms deal and said that the US was still ready for a military operation should diplomacy fail.