In Shift, Israeli Leaders Say It Is Time for Syria's Assad to Step Down

(AP-Washington Post) Israeli officials have become increasingly outspoken in their belief that Syria's President Bashar Assad should relinquish power after a 13-month uprising that has killed thousands of his citizens. With Islamic parties on the rise throughout the region, there was no telling who might replace Assad. But as the death toll mounted in recent months, a number of Israeli officials have concluded that the Middle East would be a better place without Assad. Although Israeli officials now believe Assad's days are numbered, they say they are keeping their distance from the key players in Syria. They do not want to be seen as intervening in Syrian affairs. Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel would welcome international action against Assad, just as international action in Libya helped oust the late Moammar Gaddafi. But he said, "We know our place. It's not for us to give advice....We're not doing anything to make him go. We're not getting involved or even thinking of any interference." Israeli security officials believe that if Assad goes, there is a good chance that a moderate, Sunni, Western-leaning government will take his place, based on "the latest intelligence" and the belief that Syria is far different from Egypt, where Islamic parties have risen in influence.

2012-04-27 00:00:00

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