Israel sceptical over chemical weapons ‘deal’

Israeli officials were wary this week of responding to the Russian plan of securing Syria’s chemical weapon stockpiles.

Israel has officially not commented on the Obama administration’s plan to attack Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons last month. However, behind the scenes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been active in trying to convince members of Congress to support President Barack Obama’s plans and the pro-Israel lobby, Aipac, has openly called on US politicians to vote in favour.

According to Haaretz, President Barack Obama put in a call to Mr Netanyahu last week to update him in advance of his decision to ask for Congress’s approval for his plans to launch a strike against Syria.

While an agreement that removes Syria’s chemical weapons would also be a major achievement for Israel, most Israeli experts are skeptical that such a plan could be implemented.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government is worried about any precedent that could be set regarding future action against the Iranian nuclear programme if Congress votes against a strike on Syria.

In a rare statement, President Shimon Peres said on Wednesday at a naval graduation ceremony that “Assad cannot be trusted to honour the agreement. I know both President Obama and President Putin and I am convinced that if an agreement is reached it will be reliable, explicit and significant.”

Giora Eiland, a former general in the IDF who was also Israel’s national security adviser, said that “in order for the plan to work, there has to be an agreed formula with a reasonable timetable and that formula must have some teeth to it. In addition there has to be an operational body that can make it happen.”

Mr Eiland said that the chances of that happening “are about ten per cent.”

Last updated: 5:45pm, September 12 2013