Prosor: Assad tested red line on chemical weapons

"World’s most dangerous weapons are moving within reach of our region’s most dangerous actors," ambassador to UN warns.

January 24, 2013 15:36
3 minute read.
Chemical weapons drill [file]

Chemical weapons drill 390. (photo credit: Reuters)


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UNITED NATIONS – Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor said Wednesday that Israel believes Syrian President Bashar Assad has tested the red line set out by US President Barack Obama and Western allies on the use of chemical weapons against his own people.

“I think he has tested it, but I think he’s got the message,” Prosor told The Jerusalem Post.

Prosor was reacting to a Foreign Policy report citing an internal US State Department cable that seemed to confirm the testing of chemical weapons in the field on December 23 of last year.

The State Department doused the report shortly after its release.

“The world’s most dangerous weapons are moving within reach of our region’s most dangerous actors,” Prosor said in his prepared remarks. “We face the frightening possibility that Assad’s vast stockpiles of chemical weapons could fall into the hands of Hezbollah or al- Qaida.”

“If Mali is on France’s doorstep, Gaza is in Israel’s living room,” Prosor added, highlighting the threat of terrorism to Israel on multiple borders.

At the UN Security Council, Prosor asked why the quarterly debate on the Middle East was dominated by the Palestinian question, and not any of the many other fires that make the Middle East “the world’s greatest hotbed of tyranny,” such as Iran’s nuclear program, Hezbollah’s activity in Lebanon and the rising death toll in Syria, which has now topped 60,000.

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Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said that while 800 to 1,000 Palestinians are among the dead in the Syrian conflict, the struggle is “internal to Syria” and therefore PA would not comment.

In his first presentation to the Security Council since Palestine was granted non-member observer status, Maliki said that settlement construction in the E1 corridor near Jerusalem represented a crossroads “challenging the viability of a two-state solution.”

“Regardless if it’s one settlement unit or thousands,” Maliki stated, “these are all illegal.” But while he called the upgrade of the Palestinian classification at the UN historic, US Ambassador Susan Rice said the extent of progress made for their cause was the printing of a new placard and new consulate stationary, both of which she called invalid.

She said the term “State of Palestine” would not be uttered by the US and called its use at the UN by other nations disingenuous. Prosor, for his part, called it a “state of denial.”

“As we all know, the November 29, 2012 vote in the General Assembly has not brought the Palestinians any closer to our common goal of achieving a state,” said Rice. “As we have said repeatedly, the only way to establish a real Palestinian state is through the painstaking work of direct negotiations on final status issues, without preconditions.”

Rice also reaffirmed the US’s “longstanding opposition” to settlement construction in the West Bank, and called the E1 construction “especially damaging.”

Prosor, meanwhile, highlighted Israel’s elections this week as an example of why Israel is not what is wrong with the Middle East, but what is right.

“Elections are just one component of Israel’s vibrant democracy. Our government guarantees the protection of minorities, women and gays. Our courts ensure that everyone is accountable under the law. Our educational system teaches tolerance and peace, not violence and hate,” he said.

“Cynical politics do no favors for the Arab world,” he continued. “This council needs a GPS system to find its moral center in this debate on the Middle East.

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