John Kerry landed in Israel yesterday after meeting with with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva to iron out a deal over Syria’s chemical weapons disposal. Although the trip to Israel was hyped in some quarters as “a personal mission to try to achieve a long-elusive peace deal between Israel and the PA”, Barak Ravid reporting in Haaretz zeros in on a topic we discussed earlier, Will Kerry ask Israel to ratify chemical weapons treaty, with Syria plan afoot?:
When U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on Sunday, he will present Benjamin Netanyahu with a detailed outline of the agreement to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons.
After the consultants leave the two for a tete-a-tete, Kerry may make a request that has been keeping quite a few top Israeli defense officials awake at night.
Kerry may tell Netanyahu the United States is working to remove one of the gravest threats on Israel’s security, by combining a credible military threat with creative diplomacy. Now, Kerry may say, the U.S. needs Israel’s help by ratifying the treaty prohibiting the use of chemical weapons.
Presumably, senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Office have been playing this scenario in their heads in recent days.
The ministry distributed a short set of guidelines to embassies abroad. Due to the issue’s sensitivity, the diplomats were instructed to use the guidelines only if specifically asked about the matter.
In the last few days, the Syrian regime has intimated that, in addition to its willingness to get rid of its chemical weapons, Israel own stockpile of chemical weapons (according to foreign media) must also be discussed.
And what of Israel’s nuclear weapons? Ravid claimed “Israeli military deterrence stems from its nuclear ambiguity ” (ha!) but mentioned the U.S. and Russia have been “asking Israel for several years to ratify the chemical weapons treaty, but Israel refuses to do so.” Readers may recall the U.S. backed out of a high-profile Nuclear Nonproliferation conference on banning of WMD’s in the Middle East set to take place in last December, after Iran agreed to show up. Hence, the conference, in Helsinki, Finland, was scrapped altogether.
From Nov. 10, 2012, AP Mideast Nuclear talks called off:
Its key sponsors were the U.S., Russia and Britain, but they said such as meeting was only possible if all countries – especially Israel -agreed to attend.
…..The decision to postpone, if not to scrap it, will cast doubt on the significance of the NPT and its attempts every five years to advance nonproliferation. Any new attempt is unlikely until the NPT conference meets again in 2015.
Hopes for such a meeting were alive as recently as Tuesday, when Iran joined Arab nations in saying that it planned to attend, leaving Israel as the only undecided country.
While Syria’s civil war, nuclear tensions with Iran and other Mideast frictions will be cited as the official reason for the cancellation, one of the diplomats acknowledged that the decision is mainly being taken because Israel has decided not to attend……the Russians have opposed declaring the meeting dead at this point.