Israel’s ambassador to the United States on Sunday addressed Israeli fears about potential spillover from the civil war in Syria, telling Fox News that if Syria’s chemical weapons fell into the hands of Hezbollah, Israel would consider it a “game changer.”
“We are watching the situation very carefully,” Michael Oren said. “Syria has a very varied, deep chemical weapons program. It is geographically dispersed as well. Were those weapons to pass in to the wrong hands — Hezbollah’s hands, for example — that would be a game changer for us.”
Last week, US President Barack Obama warned the embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad against using chemical weapons, saying that would be a “red line.”
On Sunday, Oren echoed Obama’s statement.
“We have a clear red line about those weapons passing into the wrong hands,” Oren said. “Can you imagine Hezbollah, with its 70,000 rockets, could get its hands on chemical weapons? That could kill thousands of people.”
Still, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Monday that Israel did not currently regard itself as being under threat from Syrian chemical weapons. If that changed, he said, Israel would know what to do in order to protect itself.
Meanwhile, a meeting of the Friends of Syria group was set to begin on Monday in Marrakech, Morocco, without US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was forced to delay her trip due to a stomach virus.
The Obama administration is expected to recognize the Syrian opposition’s new leadership council as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. Clinton is likely to announce that step at a meeting of the international diplomatic collective on Wednesday.
The State Department said Sunday that Clinton’s illness has forced her to move her flight to Morocco from Monday to Tuesday.
The meetings in Marrakech are expected to focus on providing the Syrian opposition with more financial and material support.