Israel awaits Kerry arrival as US, Russia strike deal on Syria

His visit will focus on Palestinian diplomatic track.

Kerry pulls Netanyahu by the arm 370 (photo credit: Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv)
Kerry pulls Netanyahu by the arm 370
(photo credit: Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office had no comment Saturday night on the new US-Russian agreement on destroying Syria's chemical weapons stores, as Israel awaits the arrival of US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday. 
Netanyahu's office was unlikely to comment before the prime minister meets Kerry in Jerusalem.
Although Kerry's one-day trip to Israel was planned before the announcement of the  US-Russian deal – and was originally to focus primarily on the Palestinian diplomatic track - it is now also expected to deal with the Geneva agreement
Kerry met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in London last week. A planned meeting with Netanyahu last week in Rome was cancelled because of the Syrian situation.
Kerry is scheduled to arrive in Israel after holding meetings in Paris on Sunday with the foreign ministers of France, Britain, and Saudi Arabia. Kerry was last in Jerusalem in July, when his intensive shuttle diplomacy led to the restart of Israeli-Palestinian talks.
While Jerusalem officially refrained from commenting on the deal which – if implemented – will strip Syrian President Bashar Assad of his chemical arsenal, but let him remain in power, former  deputy minister and one-time Israeli envoy to the US Danny Ayalon termed it an "important diplomatic achievement," but said the success of the deal will only be judged by its implementation.
Ayalon posted on his Facebook page that according to the deal Syria's chemical arsenal will be fully monitored in two months time, and fully removed in eight months, by June 2014.
"However, we are far from celebrating the success," he wrote. "Success will be measured only by full compliance and implementation of this agreement by Syria, with no evasions nor procrastination by Assad."
Ayalon said that the military threat against Syria needed to remain in place to ensure Assad's implementation.
He termed this a "huge success for Russia and a "personal achievement" for Russian President Vladimir Putin. "For the first time since WWII, the US plays only a supporting role," he said. "The US must assume its leading role especially vis a vis Iran."