Israel is worried the deepening instability in Syria could lead to thousands of chemical and biological weapons falling into the hands of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists, former Israeli defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said Wednesday.
“We are talking in terms of thousands of missiles that might move to Hezbollah and might endanger the whole Middle East,” said Ben-Eliezer, a Labor Party member in the coalition government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Iraqi-born Ben-Eliezer talked about Israel’s reactions to the upheaval in the Arab world and emphasized the important relations with its immediate neighbors.
“We are going to try to find a language to speak with our neighbors,” he said. “Egypt is very important, maybe the most important country to us in the Middle East.”
A former army brigadier general, Ben-Eliezer said Israel is still in regular contact with Egyptian officials at all levels, and that Israel recognized that the next president in Egypt likely will be from an Islamic political party. “Israel should do anything possible to try and to find a way to speak with any government and any administration that will take its place in Egypt,” he said.
He played down the idea that an Egypt ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood would be a threat to Israel. “The main issue of all these (Arab) revolutions is not Israel, it is socio-economic problems,” he said. Noting that millions are unemployed in Egypt he added, “I don’t think there is room now to shift budgets to buy more guns to fight against Israel.”
Ben-Eliezer praised the good relations and respect Israeli leaders have for neighboring Jordan, and gave his thanks for the recent meetings between Israel and the Palestinians sponsored by Jordan’s King Abdullah II in a bid to restart the peace process.
“As an Israeli I will try to do everything possible to see that what was started in Jordan will continue,” he said, reminding the reporters of Netanyahu’s offer to drive to Ramallah himself to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.