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PM says recent regional events a harsh reminder for Israel

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The recent bloodbath in Syria is a reminder of the kind of ruthless neighborhood Israel finds itself in, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at the opening of Sunday’s cabinet meeting.
"In the last few days we have received a reminder of the kind of neighborhood we live in," Netanyahu said. "We heard the comments by Iran’s ruler about destroying Israel, we saw the Syrian army massacre its own people, and we saw other similar bloody incidents in our region," an apparent reference to last week’s death of 75 people at an Egyptian soccer match.
He said various leaders in the region have no moral compunction against killing their own people or their neighbors.
"In this region the only thing ensuring [Israel’s] survival, security and prosperity is our strength," Netanyahu said. "We are obligated to continue to develop Israel’s military, economic and social strength. That is also the only guarantor of peace, and Israel’s only defense if that peace unravels."
Also addressing regional developments on Sunday, Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon rejected the notion that Israel supports the continuation of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, saying the autocratic leader’s fall could "break the axis of evil with Iran and Hezbollah."
Ya’alon said in an interview with Army Radio he did not believe an Islamist regime would take power in Syria in the event of Assad’s demise.
"There is a big difference between Egypt and Syria," Ya’alon stated, saying that the Muslim Brotherhood was much weaker in Syria than in Egypt. The strategic affairs minister added that he envisions a government led by intellectuals and generals taking control of the country eventually.
Ya’alon said the UN Security Council’s failure over the weekend to pass a resolution calling for Assad’s ouster demonstrated Russia and China’s "hypocrisy" and the priority they give their own interests.
The vice premier refused to comment on whether or not the government was in contact with members of the Syrian opposition, saying that announcing such contacts would hurt the opposition by painting it as "backed by Zionists."
Except for an occasional generic comment by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu or Defense Minister Ehud Barak condemning the violence in Syria or speculating about how long Assad would be able to hang on to power, Israel’s policy has been to keep a low profile on Syria so as not to play into anyone’s hands.
Labor MK Isaac Herzog called on Netanyahu to buck this trend by opening Sunday’s cabinet meeting with a statement saying he identifies with the Syrian people’s pain and condemns the bloodshed.
Herzog told Army Radio that he is personally in contact with Syria’s opposition, which he characterized as "largely secular."
The Labor MK said he does not fear

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