Oren: Chemical Weapons in Wrong Hands Would be 'Game Changer'
Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren warned Sunday that any evidence of chemical weapons being passed from the Assad regime to terrorist groups like Hizbullah would be a “red line for Israel” and could constitute military action.
While Oren could not confirm recent claims that the Syrian regime is mixing and moving components for the deadly sarin nerve gas, he said that Israel is watching the situation "very carefully."
"Were those weapons to pass into the wrong hands -- Huzbullah's hands, for example -- that would be a game-changer for us," Oren told "Fox News Sunday."
"We have a very clear red line about those chemical weapons passing into the wrong hands,” he said. “Can you imagine if Hizbullah and its 70,000 rockets would get its hands on chemical weapons? That could kill thousands of people."
Israel’s standard, or so-called “red line”, is different than that of the United States, which said that its trigger for military action would be any move by Syrian President Bashar Assad to use the weapons against the Syrian people.
Ambassador Oren said Assad had proved himself to be “reckless and irresponsible and ruthless” and needs to be deposed.
“If he goes now, we would view that as a positive development,” he said. “He's an ally of Iran. He's an ally of Hizbullah. We understand that if jihadists were to come in, it wouldn't be good. But, it perhaps wouldn't be as bad as the current situation.”
Oren also maintained that the recent approval of new Jewish homes in the disputed area of E1 was, in one sense, a “way the Israeli government set down a marker.”
“The Palestinians violated their agreements with us and with the United States by going unilaterally to the U.N. to declare a state,” Oren said. “All of our agreements say there's no alternative to direct talks between us and the Palestinians.”
“It's a preliminary stage that was announced, last week,” he added. “It could take years to fulfill that. Let's see if the Palestinians come back to the negotiating table.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced the approval to build new Jewish homes in the state-owned land between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim, known as E1, which Oren described as necessary in order to prevent Maaleh Adumim, home to 40,000 Israelis, from being cut off from Jerusalem.
The PA demands its planned state include a road from Ramallah, north of Jerusalem, to Bethlehem, south of the holy city, and insists that E1 be a contiguous part of that state. Israel has suggested other ways to build the road, he explained.
The timing of the long-discussed construction was in response to the unilateral efforts of the PA to secure statehood, thereby circumventing peace negotiations with Israel.