An Israeli Cabinet minister warned Syria against going to war to regain the Golan Heights.
National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said in a radio interview recorded this week that Israel has worked hard to convince Syria it seeks no renewed hostilities but is also bracing for the worst.
“If, despite our efforts, Syria dares to launch a war, it will rue the day,” Ben-Eliezer told Israel’s Radius Radio, according to a transcript released by the station.
Ben-Eliezer, a retired general and former defense minister, said that any new confrontation on Israel’s northern border would probably be with both Syrian forces and their Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah. But he added that Israel’s military, having been overhauled since last year’s Lebanon war, could beat them both.
“This time the Israel Defense Forces will be so ready and so strong, and will conduct itself with such sophistication, that I hope both Assad and Nasrallah regret their decision,” he said, referring to the leaders of Syria and Hezbollah.
The interview, which was scheduled for broadcast on Friday, appeared to stray from the Olmert government’s policy of avoiding any appearance of saber-rattling against Syria. Since the Lebanon war, Syrian President Bashar Assad has expressed interest in resuming peace talks with Jerusalem but has also hinted that he could resort to force to regain the Golan, which was lost to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.