A distinguished former Israeli ambassador to the United States on Thursday accused the Obama administration of prime responsibility for the international community’s failure to stop the killings in Syria.

Itamar Rabinovich, who was also Israel’s chief negotiator under prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in abortive efforts at peacemaking with Syria in 1992-95, said that “it’s not Russia that’s preventing intervention. Russia is the pretext, the alibi” for the lack of substantive international action. “If someone wanted to ratchet up the pressure on Syria, they could,” he said.

Itamar Rabinovich (photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Itamar Rabinovich (photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

The real block, he told Army Radio, is the US government. “The Obama administration is not looking for another major Middle East crisis before November.”

Asked therefore whether Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, despite her bitter rhetoric against Damascus, did not actually intend to take any action now, Rabinovich said, “Later, after November.”

Rabinovich, a former president of Tel Aviv University and a visiting professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, expressed his dismay at the world’s response to the bloodshed in Syria and said that country was already “in a state of anarchy,” with “Sunnis and Alawites massacring each other.”

He said President Bashar Assad was “living on borrowed time,” and that Israeli security officials ought to be taking precautions against the possibility of Assad trying to draw Israel into the conflict. Although it was not highly likely, he said, they should take into account that Assad might resort “to some desperate action” as he strives to retain power.