Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that global inaction on the bloodbath in Syria is a warning to many countries that they cannot count on outsiders' help _ no matter how dire the circumstances.
He suggested, in an ironic twist, that this applied to Israel itself, discouraging its people from backing risks for peace, such as the return of strategic Palestinian territories in exchange for various assurances.
"Many of our best friends are telling us ... `Don't worry, if worst comes to worst the world will inevitably (help),'" Barak said at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos. "It cannot be taken for granted."
The Syrian civil war was a major topic at Davos this year. This was evidenced by the startling vehemence displayed by even Barak and Israeli President Shimon Peres _ whose country is technically in a state of war with Syria _ as they lamented the killing of Syrian innocents.
"It's on the screens all around the world," Barak said, tens of thousands of people "slaughtered by their own leader and the world doesn't move."
His conclusion: Even "unspeakable atrocities ... taking place in front of the eyes of the whole world" cannot guarantee "that there will be enough sense of purpose, sense of direction, unity of political will, readiness to translate it into action ... in a way that will put an end to it."
He said Israel should nonetheless overcome its concerns and find a way to withdraw from the West Bank _ in order to avoid becoming inseparable from it in a single state that will ultimately have an Arab majority.
On the threat of Iran's nuclear program, Barak said that Israel believed there "should be a readiness and capability to launch a surgical operation" if diplomacy and sanctions fail.
He said it was in U.S. interests to be able to project credibility among future allies in Asia by ensuring that it makes good on promises to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon.
By Dan Perry