Israel Facilitated Syrian Chemical Weapons Deal

YERUSHALAYIM (Hamodia Staff) —

Israel played a key role in devising the plan for the disarming of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal under Russian supervision, which allowed President Barack Obama to pull back from a threatened bombing of Syrian targets in late 2013.

The revelation comes from Israel’s former ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, who describes the hitherto unrecognized Israeli role in a forthcoming book, and was reported in Bloomberg.

According to Oren, in late August and early September 2013, Israel’s then-intelligence minister, Yuval Steinitz, suggested that Syria turn over its chemical weapons to the Russians. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu subsequently received the go-ahead from Obama.

“The idea originated with an Israeli minister, Yuval Steinitz, who first pitched it to the Russians, who were eager to avoid an American intercession that they could not stop. Netanyahu next brought it to Obama and received a green light,” Oren recounted.

However, one senior U.S. official gave Bloomberg a different version of the events. According to him, Israel rode backseat in the affair, merely supporting a plan already worked out by Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, along with Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

But Oren, an historian turned diplomat, is out to right an historiographical wrong.

“In subsequent interviews, Obama rarely missed the chance to cite the neutralization of Syria’s chemical capabilities as an historic diplomatic achievement. Russian president Vladimir Putin also took credit for the initiative and praised this ‘vivid example of how the international community can solve the most complex disarmament and non- proliferation task.’ Israel’s role remained unmentioned, but its citizens were relieved not to have to sign up for more gas masks,” Oren said.

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