Kerry Warns U.S. Inaction in Syria Puts Israel in Danger. Israel Says It Can Handle It.

None

Secretary of State John Kerry greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting on Kerry's fifth Mideast trip in Jerusalem in June.  
National Journal
Marina Koren
See more stories about...
Marina Koren
Sept. 4, 2013, 10:48 a.m.

When it comes to a strike on Syr­ia, Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry has guar­an­tees. Speak­ing to the Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee on Tues­day, Kerry said that if the United States does not in­ter­vene, Bashar al-As­sad’s re­gime will strike with an­oth­er chem­ic­al-weapons at­tack. Coun­tries like Ir­an and North Korea will push ahead with their nuc­le­ar pro­grams. And Amer­ic­an al­lies in the Middle East will be­come tar­gets.

He said these U.S. al­lies are count­ing on the coun­try to stop As­sad. “They anxiously await our as­sur­ance that our word means something.”

But one of them may not be as anxious as Kerry’s as­ser­tions seem to sug­gest. Is­rael is un­happy that the White House is cit­ing con­cern over the coun­try’s safety as it builds its case be­fore Con­gress for a strike, ac­cord­ing to a re­port on Is­rael’s Chan­nel 2 news Monday night cited by The Times of Is­rael. “We don’t need Amer­ica to take care of threats to Is­rael,” one un­named seni­or of­fi­cial said.

Tues­day’s hear­ing wasn’t the first time Kerry cited Is­rael as an ally in need of pro­tec­tion from a po­ten­tial Syr­i­an chem­ic­al-weapons at­tack. In a state­ment on Fri­day, he said that tak­ing ac­tion “mat­ters to our se­cur­ity and the se­cur­ity of our al­lies. It mat­ters to Is­rael.”

At the hear­ing, he elab­or­ated on the danger the As­sad re­gime poses to Is­rael. “I can make it crys­tal clear to you that Is­rael will be less safe un­less the United States takes this ac­tion,” Kerry told Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who sug­ges­ted that mil­it­ary ac­tion could lead As­sad to re­tali­ate against the U.S. by at­tack­ing its Middle East­ern al­lies such as Is­rael, Jordan, and Tur­key.

Is­rael’s U.S. am­bas­sad­or, Mi­chael Oren, however, is not wor­ried about that. “I’ve heard it sug­ges­ted that a reas­on why the U.S. should not act in Syr­ia is fear of re­tri­bu­tion against Is­rael,” he said in a state­ment Tues­day night. “In re­sponse, I say un­equi­voc­ally that Is­rael can de­fend it­self and will re­spond force­fully to any ag­gres­sion by Syr­ia.”

At the hear­ing, Kerry cited Ir­an and Hezbol­lah as some of As­sad’s biggest al­lies — and Is­rael’s biggest en­emies. “If Ir­an and Hezbol­lah are ad­vant­aged by the United States not curb­ing As­sad’s use of chem­ic­al weapons, there is a much great­er like­li­hood that at some point down the road, Hezbol­lah … will have ac­cess to these weapons of mass de­struc­tion. And Is­rael will for cer­tain be less se­cure.”

Fol­low­ing the Aug. 21 at­tacks that killed more than 1,400 people, Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Net­an­yahu said that in the event of an at­tack by the As­sad re­gime, Is­rael would re­spond “force­fully.” On Tues­day, Kerry re­minded sen­at­ors of that, say­ing that Net­an­yahu “feels very con­fid­ent about Is­rael’s abil­ity to be able to deal” with threats from the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment. So, the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment has made it clear the coun­try is not a vic­tim. The White House, however, ap­pears set on cit­ing the need to pro­tect Is­rael, as well as oth­er al­lies in the Middle East, as a reas­on to move for­ward with mil­it­ary ac­tion.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4419) }}

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
3 days ago
THE DETAILS

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Source:
‘PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER’
Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
3 days ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Source:
THE TIME IS NOW, TED
Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
3 days ago
WHY WE CARE

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Source:
CHRISTIE, BUSH TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN
Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
3 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Source:
7 REPUBLICANS ON STAGE
Carly Fiorina Will Not Be Allowed to Debate on Saturday
2 days ago
THE LATEST

ABC News has announced the criteria for Saturday’s Republican debate, and that means Carly Fiorina won’t be a part of it. The network is demanding candidates have “a top-three finish in Iowa, a top-six standing in an average of recent New Hampshire polls or a top-six placement in national polls in order for candidates to qualify.” And there will be no “happy hour” undercard debate this time. “So that means no Fiorina vs. Jim Gilmore showdown earlier in the evening for the most ardent of campaign 2016 junkies.

Source:
×