Israel, Syria And Chemical Weapons

President Obama's Official Visit To Israel And The West Bank Day One

For a while there, I thought Netanyahu was being very shrewd, and unusually statesmanlike, in keeping a very low profile – and ordering his colleagues and compatriots to do the same. So this, if true, is deeply unfortunate:

Israeli officials close to the prime minister told Ynet he recently held talks with members of Congress, government officials and AIPAC officials, to explain the importance of American military action against the Assad regime.

The NYT has more this morning. Bibi would be better off, it seems to me, using his usual channels – like the Washington Post op-ed page – to make his case, rather than directly inter-acting with US members of Congress. That looks like truly inappropriate meddling in a properly domestic debate.

One other thing: this crisis has reminded us of a remarkable fact. There are just seven countries in the world who are not fully signed up to the Chemical Weapons Convention: Burma and Israel (signed but not ratified) and Angola, North Korea, Egypt, South Sudan, and, yes, Syria (AWOL). Here’s Wiki on the subject:

In 1993, the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment WMD proliferation assessment recorded Israel as a country generally reported as having undeclared offensive chemical warfare capabilities. Former US deputy assistant secretary of defense responsible for chemical and biological defense, Bill Richardson, said in 1998 “I have no doubt that Israel has worked on both chemical and biological offensive things for a long time… There’s no doubt they’ve had stuff for years.”

Is it not passing strange that the country pushing for a war to end Syria’s chemical weapons threat and another war to end Iran’s nuclear capacity is also a rogue nation in terms of both nuclear and chemical weapons? Will this obvious point ever be raised? If Obama’s campaign really is to suppress the proliferation of such weapons, would it not be a good idea to predicate continued aid to Egypt and Israel on both countries’ adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention?

I mean: if Assad has caved, why not Israel? One would think that poison gas would have a particularly profound stigma for the state that rose from the ashes of the Holocaust.

(Photo: Marc Israel Sellem, Getty Images.)