JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman challenged what he called "blatant threats" by Syria against his country.
Lieberman, speaking of President Bashar Assad, said if Syria goes to war with Israel, "not only will you lose the war, you and your family will no longer be in power."
The Israeli official made the remarks Thursday during a speech at a business conference at Bar-Ilan University.
His comments came following Assad’s assertion Wednesday during a news conference in Damascus with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos that Israel is “pushing the region towards war" and that Israel "is not serious about achieving peace.”
Assad’s comments came hours after Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said that "Israel knows that if it declares war on Syria, such a war will reach its cities as well."
Lieberman called Moallem’s remarks a "blatant threat against Israel." He said that Syria "has crossed a red line, and we cannot ignore this."
On Tuesday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told a group of senior Israeli officers that Israel must resume peace talks with Syria because otherwise a full-blown war with Syria was in the offing.
Lieberman said he supports peace with Syria as long as Israel can retain the Golan Heights.
"Syria must understand that it has to let go of the demand for the Golan, in the same way that it gave up on the Greater Syria dream," said Lieberman.
Leaders of Israeli government opposition parties decried Lieberman’s threats to Syria, calling him a "warmonger" and "irresponsible."
Following Lieberman’s address Thursday, Prime MInister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Cabinet Secretary Tzvi Hauser to call all government ministers and order them not to make any Syria-related comments.