PM: Israel preparing for major changes in Syria

Netanyahu reiterates Israel closely monitoring "dramatic developments" in Syria, is preparing for possible action.

December 23, 2012 11:35
1 minute read.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu 370. (photo credit: Pool / Haim Zach)


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Israel, in cooperation with the US and others in the international community, is preparing for the possibility of far reaching changes in the Syrian regime, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday.

Netanyahu, speaking at the outset of the weekly cabinet meeting, said those changes could have "implications" for the "sensitive weapons systems there."

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Israel has in recent weeks expressed its serious concern about how changes in Syria will impact upon Damascus' huge stockpile of chemical weapons, and how these weapons could become a part of the Syrian crisis. Netanyahu told the cabinet there were "dramatic developments" in Syria now "about every day."

Israel has increasingly been relaying the message to all actors in Syria that the fate of the chemical weapons is a "very sensitive issue" not only for Israel, but for the entire international community. Jerusalem is concerned that either Hezbollah or other terrorist organizations could lay their hands on these weapons as Syria descends into further chaos and anarchy,

On Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attempted to calm nerves regarding the chemical weapons stockpile, saying that "as of right now" the Syrian government "is doing all it can to safeguard these weapons." He said Russia was "following all leads concerning chemical weapons."

Earlier this month, a few western countries expressed concern that the beleaguered regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad might be preparing the use of chemical weapons to fight the rebels.

Last week, reflecting Israel's worries, Netanyahu told visiting Texas senator-elect Ted Cruz that Israel was very closely consulting and coordinating with the US regarding the possibility of the use of these weapons.

Meanwhile, Amos Gilad, the director of the Defense Ministry's diplomatic and security bureau, said on Army Radio Sunday that "at the moment" the chemical weapons in Syria "are under control."

Gilad warned that if Assad does leave the Syria, as some have speculated, there "could be chaos" because "in the Middle East you never know who will come instead."

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