The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied claims made by the country’s ambassador to the U.S. Tuesday that Israel is backing rebels battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s civil war, i24 News reported Wednesday.
The denial came after Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, told the Jerusalem Post that Israel “always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran,” even if the other “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.
“We understand that they are pretty bad guys,” Oren said, referring to elements of the Syrian opposition. “Still, the greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” he added.
Netanyahu’s office, however, said Oren’s comments do not represent the prime minister’s position. “Israel’s policy has not changed, and we are not intervening in internal Syrian affairs,” the statement said.
Israeli officials have repeatedly said that the country has no interest in becoming involved in Syria’s civil war, and Netanyahu has repeatedly instructed his Cabinet and others representing the government to remain silent on the issue.