Throughout much of the Syrian Civil War, Israel has been very public about its opposition to President Assad’s government, keen to see him removed from power if for no other reason than because he’s on good terms with Iran, and his ouster would make Iran feel bad.
Today, however, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, ironically one of several officials that had been an outspoken anti-Assad voice in the past, says that Israel will no longer take any public position on Assad staying in power one way or another, saying the issue is sensitive.
Ya’alon in particular cited the opposing goals of the US and Russia on Assad as a good reason to keep their own opinions to themselves, insisting Israel isn’t in a position to speak out on Assad right now, and will stick to military “red lines” on attacking Assad for attempted arms transfers to Hezbollah.
The sudden Israeli shift may reflect a desire not to alienate Russia in the near term, and also a recognition that a growing number of EU and other powers are supportive of Assad staying in power. If Assad indeed stays in power in some limited fashion in a unity government, Israel may be in a better position if they avoid direct comment on the matter.