Israel concerned with US hesitation on Syria
President Barack Obama’s decision to delay the US offensive against Syria opened the window for negotiating a non-military solution to the issue of chemical weapons, a step that worried Israel for various reasons, the Israeli daily Maariv reported on Monday.
Israel’s worries are not just related to Syrian chemical weapons, but also to the consequences that a non-military solution will have on the Iranian nuclear issue and on Hezbollah.
Israel believes that the proposed attack would have a deterrent message to Iran and Hezbollah that the US is still effective in the region, according to Maariv.
The newspaper reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced fears that Obama’s hesitation could send a message to Iran and Hezbollah that the US would not use military power to undermine Iran’s nuclear program.
Netanyahu also said this could also increase Hezbollah’s motivation to carry on threatening the security situation in the region, resulting in Israel standing alone in face of the Iranian and Hezbollah threats without any expected military interference by the US.
According to the newspaper, Netanyahu wanted a military operation to regain the credibility of the US’s deterrent power in the region.
Meanwhile, observers suggest that the time span for a potential US attack against Syria is actually longer than what Obama initially announced. While Congress is expected to discuss the issue within eight days, the eyes of the world are also looking to the UN General Assembly to convene on 17 September, when the UN inspection mission is scheduled to disclose the results of its investigations in Damascus about the use of chemical weapons.
The newspaper said that Obama’s decision also opened the door for a prospective meeting on diplomatic solutions for the Syrian crisis with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin during the Summit of the Group 20, which is to convene in Petersburg later this week.
One of the expected solutions, the newspaper reported, is what Russia has already been working on. Russia is seeking to preclude a military attack on Syria and instead suggesting the destruction of chemical weapons under the authority of UN inspectors.
Another proposed solution is to take the chemical weapons out of Syria as a prelude to an international conference on the Syrian issue. The US accepts the participation of the Syrian regime in the proposed conference.