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MIDEAST > Israel's Peres urges Syria intervention by Arab force

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Arab countries need to stop Syria’s al-Assad from killing ‘his own children,’ Israel’s president says, warning of a Damascus attack on Europe

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Israeli President Shimon Peres speaks during a meeting with French Imams on March 10, 2013 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINA

Israeli President Shimon Peres speaks during a meeting with French Imams on March 10, 2013 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINA

Israeli President Shimon Peres issued a call to the Arab League yesterday to intervene militarily in Syria “to stop the massacre” in the country amid the Arab republic’s two-year-old civil war.

“The Arab League can and should form a provisional government in Syria to stop the massacre, to prevent Syria from falling to pieces. The United Nations should support the Arab League to build an Arab force in blue helmets,” he said in an address to the European Parliament.

In the first speech to the assembly by an Israeli head of state in almost three decades, Peres said the free world “cannot stand by when a massacre is carried out by the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against his own people and his own children.”

“It breaks all our hearts,” he said, adding that al-Assad was a threat to the entire region “and even for Europe” because he possessed a chemical arsenal.

Peres said Arab League intervention was the best solution to prevent chemical weapons from falling into the wrong hands.

“The intervention of Western forces would be perceived as a foreign interference,” he said.

The fate of al-Assad’s chemical arsenal was “a real problem,” he said at a news conference after the speech.

The Israeli leader received a standing ovation from the 754-member Parliament. Hailing the European Union’s feat in turning a continent at war into a continent at peace in six decades, Peres singled out Iran as the world’s number-one enemy.

‘Call terror, terror’

“The greatest danger to peace in the world is the present Iranian regime,” he said, attacking Tehran not only for “aiming to build a nuclear weapon” but also for violating human rights by hanging people and discriminating against women.

He also slammed Iran for supporting global terrorism, notably via “its main proxy,” the Lebanese Hezbollah, blaming the group for dividing Lebanon, supporting al-Assad and sowing terror across the world, most recently in Europe. The EU is already under pressure from Israel and the United States to put Hezbollah on a terrorist blacklist and Peres added his voice to the calls. “We appeal to you, call terror, terror,” he said. “Save Lebanon from terrorist madness. Save the Syrian people from Iran’s proxies. Save your citizens and ours from Hezbollah.”

The last Israeli head of state to address lawmakers from the bloc was Chaim Herzog 28 years ago.

March/12/2013

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