Tuesday, May 18th | 8 Sivan 5781

October 7, 2019 3:16 pm

Top Israeli Politicians Lament Trump Decision to Pull US Forces From Northern Syria

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid. Photo: Adi Cohen Zedek via Wikimedia Commons.

Yair Lapid — co-chairman of Israel’s centrist Blue and White party — issued a rare, if indirect, criticism of the Trump administration on Monday, expressing support for two US senators opposed to the president’s just-announced plan to pull American troops out of northern Syria to clear the way for a Turkish invasion.

The critique of Trump’s move has centered on the likely consequences for the region’s Kurdish population, whose US-allied militias played a decisive role in the defeat of the Islamic State.

“I join my friends @LindseyGrahamSC and @ChrisVanHollen in their call to impose sanctions on Turkey and suspend it from NATO in response to any attack on the Kurds in northern Syria,” Lapid tweeted.

“I also welcome President Trump making the cost of any such attack absolutely clear to Erdogan,” he added.

Lapid’s tweet came in response to one by Senator Lindsey Graham, in which Graham announced a legislative initiative to head off a Turkish attack on Kurdish forces in the region.

“Just spoke to Sen @ChrisVanHollen about situation in Syria,” said Graham. “We will introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey if they invade Syria and will call for their suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces who assisted the US in the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate.”

“Hope and expect sanctions against Turkey — if necessary — would be veto-proof,” Graham added.

“This decision to abandon our Kurdish allies and turn Syria over to Russia, Iran, & Turkey will put every radical Islamist on steroids,” Graham admonished. “Shot in the arm to the bad guys. Devastating for the good guys.”

Ex-Education Minister and current MK from the right-wing Yamina party Naftali Bennett tweeted, “At this time we, Israelis, pray for the Kurd People who are under a brutal Turkish attack.”

He added, “The lesson for Israel is simple: Israel will ALWAYS defend itself by itself. The Jewish State will never put its fate in the hands of others, including our great friend, the USA.”

The Israeli government has issued no statement on Trump’s sudden decision, though the Jewish state has historically been close with the Kurds, many of whom sympathize with Israel and have suffered brutal Arab and Turkish persecution.

Alongside Graham, many prominent Republicans have reacted with shock and harsh criticism to Trump’s turnabout on Syria.

Former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said, “We must always have the backs of our allies if we expect them to have our back. The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake.”

Senator Marco Rubio called the decision a “grave mistake that will have implications far beyond Syria. It would confirm Iran’s view of this administration and embolden then to escalate hostile attacks which in turn could trigger a much broader and more dangerous regional war.”

After the announcement of the US pullout, Trump issued a bizarre tweet, exclaiming, “As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!)”

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