Will Kerry ask Israel to ratify chemical weapons treaty, with Syria plan afoot?

Should Israel agree to dismantle its own chemical arsenal – if one does in fact exist – it could win the international credit it desperately needs, and also maintain more important strategic security interests.

Kerry and Lavrov
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland... / Photo by AP
By Barak Ravid
Published 08:28 15.09.13

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.

After Foreign Policy magazine last week published documents from the CIA archive about Israel’s chemical weapons program, the Foreign Ministry began preparing for the possibility that the international media would raise the issue.

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.

Linkage rejected

Syria’s UN ambassador Bashar Jaafari said in a briefing at the end of last week that Syria is not setting this as a condition, but it believes Israel must also ratify the chemical weapons treaty.

“The main danger of weapons of mass destruction is the Israel nuclear arsenal,” Jaafari said. He said Israel also possesses chemical weapons but “no body talks about that.”

At least publicly, the American administration rejects any attempt to link Syria’s chemical weapons with those Israel reportedly has. On Friday, in the midst of the discussions between Kerry and his Russian colleague Sergei Lavrov, Wall Steet Journal reporter Jay Solomon asked State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki about it.

“We won’t accept attempts by the Syrian regime … to compare itself to Israel, a thriving democracy which doesn’t brutally slaughter and gas its own people,” she said.

Israel signed the chemical weapons treaty in 1993 in a move spearheaded by Defense Ministry director general David Ivri with the support of then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and many others in the defense establishment. The treaty however was never ratified by the cabinet or Knesset, so Israel has not subjected itself to its restrictions and to demands to dismantle immediately all its alleged chemical weapons.

The United States and Russia have been asking Israel for several years to ratify the chemical weapons treaty, but Israel refuses to do so.

It’s arguments are not without reason. Jerusalem says that as long as Arab states, first and foremost Syria, have chemical weapons and threaten Israeli cities with it, there is no reason or sense for Israel to do so.

However, quite a few former defense establishment officials think that in view of the current reality Israel should reexamine its policy. The Iraqi chemical threat disappeared a decade ago, if it ever existed. Egypt’s chemical weapons program is dormant, the potential Iranian threat is nuclear and the central chemical threat – Syria – may disappear within a year.

Israeli military deterrence stems from its nuclear ambiguity and the bombs which, according to foreign media, have been manufactured in Dimona – not from poison gas that was produced, or not, at the Institute for Biological Research in Nes Tziona. Then there's the moral aspect: Could the Jewish army use poison gas in warfare, even against its worst enemies?

The issue of chemical weapons can be compared to the Gaza disengagement plan. Gaza went from being an asset for Israel to a burden – and the same could happen to the country's chemical weapons. They are expensive to maintain and their effectiveness is uncertain. By ratifying the treaty and dismantling its chemical arsenal – if one does in fact exist – Israel could not only garner international credit, which it desperately needs, but also maintain more important strategic security interests.


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  • 18.
    Israel and Chemical Weapons
    The lesson to be learned from Assad is that chemical weapons are a threat to the very countries that have them. Al Qaeda terrorists might get their hands on them and attack the very population that was intended to be protected by them. And it is very difficult to prove who actually used them. All countries should get rid of them for their own safety. That applies to Israel as much as to any other country.
  • 17.
    Will Kerry ask Israel to ratify chemical weapons treaty, with Syria plan afoot?
    Yeah right. AIPAC will take care that Kerry or any other American politician will keep their mouths shut. America will never ask or force Israel to sign such a treaty and yes, Israel has chemical weapons, make no mistake about that.
  • 16.
    Hypocrisy reins supreme.
    The US has used biological and chemical weapons against civilians in our lifetime (Vietnam), killing many thousands of innocent people. So the treaty is worthless. As for Israel, they signed it but didn't ratify it, but that's irrelevant as you folks have used White Prosperous against Palestinian civilians.
  • 15.
    A fair deal is enough for a fair game
    So far as Israel has CW, it is on the same par with Syria and both pose a threat with symmetrical threat level countries to global peace. The persuasion of Syria to abandon its CW is equally applicable to other Arab States in the region. CW is a threat regardless of which country has it. the aim of the proposal is to totally wipe out such threat, this is unachievable without all involved hands on deck.
  • 14.
    For America to maintain credibility and balance
    It must insist Israel ratify the chemical weapons Treaty and dispose of ALL its chemical weapons also. For Israel to have any integrity given its demands on Syria it will do so willingly as a matter of process and in support of its own statements.
  • Actually Israel hasn't demanded that Syria get rid of its chemical weapons
    All it has done (aside from expressing its hope that the US/Russian deal gets results, which it mainly cares about because of the implications for Iran) is point out that if Syria dares to use them on us it will regret it. And that is a very credible position, whether Israel ratifies the treaty or it does not. Let's be clear here: the US/Russian deal is aimed at protecting Syrian citizens from chemical attacks by Assad. There is no reason why Israel should be made to 'pay' for protecting the citizens of an enemy country from its own leader, especially as what is protecting Israel's citizens from attacks (chemical or otherwise) by that leader is the IDF, and not any US/Russian deal, whether it gets results or it does not.
  • The Treaty is meaningless.
    Since Israel and the US use chemical weapons against civilians (Vietnam, Gaza), what good is the treaty? Neither country follows that prohibition anyway. Your heart is in the right place, but it's not good to maintain a dangerous fiction.
  • Their is no definitive proof Assad used gas against his people.
  • 13.
    "Due to the issue’s sensitivity, the diplomats were instructed to use the guidelines only if specifically asked about the matter. "
    Translation for guidelines. Hasbara and lies.
  • 12.
    like gaza? we can all see how that turned out huh?
    israel should flat out say no...or, only in return for the destruction of irans nuclear program.
  • 11.
    Of course, there is a linkage!! One cannot deny others what one claims to be entitled to possess
    That means, Mr. Kerry has to ask Israel to dismantle its chemical weaponry. How can the Americans claim there is no linkage between the chemical weapon abilities which Syria or any other countries possess and those of Israel. The world does not need neither chemical nor nuclear weapons and all states should be pressurized to give up their weapons and ambitions. Equal rights and equal commitments must apply to all nations.
  • 10.
    America created muslim nations inside europe like kosovo and bosnia. It wants to create another one palestine. Eventhough israel has given freedom to gaza they do not use it but destroys egypt by arming the sinai militants.
    So have your own way israel
  • Liar
    A military blockade controlling everything that goes in and out, thus keeping the Giza as a modern day Warsaw Ghetto is not freedom.
  • Freedom for Gaza?
    Gaza have no freedom. Any harm done by Gaza is done by the crazy leaders, not the innocent people who are being imprisoned and slaughtered like all Palestinians so Israeli settlers can plant their nice gardens around their nice houses while Palestinian children get butchered by the IDF. Israelis, STOP drinking the Zionist Koolaid! STOP IT! STOP IT!
  • 9.
    Israel should not do ANYTHING that the US wants
    Obama has proven he can't be trusted to back up his words. Israel should just rely on God forever.
  • Relying on G-d
    Israel tried that a couple of thousand years ago, and we all know how that turned out.
  • Hypocricy
    Says the welfare recipient whose society depends on 3 billion dollars of welfare payments from Obama every year.
  • US obeys Israel, AIPAC, and Zionists
    Israel do not obey US - other way around. Just cuz US bigger country, more people. Many are sheeples and stupid while what Israel wants, Israel gets. Always for 100 years. Thank you to Christian Zionists, misguided, deceitful, and don't understand Bible - either old testament or new testament. Zionists very smart, winning battles, but will lose the war in the end - very soon I think.
  • 8.
    They need to be dismentled.
    Israeli nukes are enough. No need for chemicals.
  • You are delusional, nukes will annihilate evreyone, all humankind
    Nukes will not save anyone nor spare one. Get rid of nukes, chemicals, and biological weapons. If there is justice and equality in the world there will be no need for war.
  • 7.
    Will he ask Israel to ratify the chemical weapons treaty? Of course not! We all know that there's one rule for Israel and a different one for everyone else.
  • Some Integrity needed
    Why doesnt the USA lead by example. Get rid of its own chemical weapons & nukes 1st. Lead by example & beg the Japanese for forgiveness.
  • so the same goes for israel then!!!!
  • 6.
    Any "international credit" will expire within days, as it has with all Jewish giveaways
  • Only because Israel's "international debt" is so high, Benyamin.
  • Making my point that doing anything for international credit is futile
  • 5.
    The Iraqi chemical threat disappeared a decade ago, if it ever existed.
    If it ever existed? This is a misleading insinuation. It is well documented that Iraq used chemical weapons including sarin and mustard gas on Iranian soldiers and Iraqi Kurds. It may or may not be in Israel's interest to ratify the treaty, but Israel, which has never used chemical weapons on its own citizens or anybody else certainly should not be asked to pay up as part of the price for Putin having extracted Obama from the corner which he so ineptly painted himself into. All the more so since since Egypt, which is highly unstable at the moment, and has also not signed, has used chemical weapons in war in the past (Yemen.) (And Israel haters please spare us the white phosphorus replies because its use in smoke shells - which is what Israel uses it for - is legal, and is furthermore not prohibited by the treaty in question, as evidenced by the fact that the US military and Nato have used it in various recent conflicts)
  • Israeli---white phosphorous is illegal when dropped on civillians.
    Please spare us the hasbara and lies.
  • Labhras - ANYTHING is illegal when dropped on civilians IF
    they are targeted intentionally, and with no proportionate military target in the vicinity. Which describes Hamas's 8000 missiles fired at Israeli cities where there were NO military targets a lot better than it does the Israeli army's use of smoke shells in the midst of a battle where it was attacking military targets such as rocket launchers and places where weapons were stored. It is not illegal to kill civilians if it is done while attacking military targets of proportionate value. The US, for example has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq, Afganistan, Pakistan, and Yemen, and nobody claims this is a war crime.
  • israel reported to have used posion gas in Gaza 2001.
  • 4.
    Virtual hegemony ?
    Orwell, the genius stated: "ALL xxx ARE EQUAL BUT SOME xxx ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS"
  • I read it, the pigs said that and claimed superior to other animals.
  • 3.
    Refusing all the way to oblivion
    In another generation, the Holocaust will no longer be accepted as an excuse for crimes against the Palestinians and militaristic bullying of all other nations in the region.This has not and will not bring peace. Israel will either cease to be a Jewish State or it will be a pariah
  • "Israel'll cease to be a Jewish Stat"-dream of Dietrich,Herman.Baldur,Siegfried etc,. etc...
  • dietrich that's unfair
    nobody says you're a fool because you have tunnel vision
  • H, you claim to be an educator??.
    Whom do you teach? infants. By the way, dietrich is wrong and right. Israeli is already a pariah and Israel is self destructing.
  • 2.
    An offer that Israel Shouldn't and Can't refuse
    Why not do as one says and not as one does.....Israel cannot afford to breach this trust inspiring moment with the world powers , especially in lieu of the forthcoming diplomatic crisis with the Palestinian negotiations and Iranian issue looming over .............C
  • 1.
    The same Israeli military hoinchos were assuring on peaceful intentions of Arafat and "border with Lebanon'll remain quiet"