WASHINGTON/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Six months after U.S. President Barack Obama eased a strained relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a visit to Israel dubbed “Operation Desert Schmooze,” the two leaders now face the biggest test of whether they can work together – and the stakes are higher than ever.
A diplomatic charm offensive by new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has suddenly opened up a gap between the White House and Netanyahu’s government. How they respond could have far-reaching implications for their political legacies as well as the future stability of the Middle East.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – A charm offensive toward the West by Iran’s new president and his nuanced approach to his predecessor’s Holocaust denial have run into an Israeli wall of suspicion hardened by Tehran’s nuclear pursuits.
Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, will not be fooled by Hassan Rouhani’s international outreach and the world must not be either.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel voiced concern on Tuesday over a potential meeting of the U.S. and Iranian presidents, saying Tehran sought reconciliation with world powers as a ruse to press on with its nuclear program.
Iran’s new government has taken its charm offensive to the annual U.N. General Assembly, agreeing to international nuclear negotiations that would include its foreign minister seeing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could cling to power for years despite having lost overall control of his country, according to Israel’s top commander on the frontier with Syria.
Major-General Yair Golan’s remarks, published on Wednesday in the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, reflected debate in Israel over Assad’s fate, 2-1/2 years into Syria’s civil war, after a U.S.-Russian agreement to force him to give up his chemical weapons.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The Israeli ambassador to the United States says Israel has wanted to see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad removed from power since before the outbreak of war there – a shift from its publicly-stated position.
It sees his defeat by rebels who include al Qaeda-linked Islamists as preferable to his current alliance with Iran, ambassador Michael Oren said.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – A senior Israeli official close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced cautious support on Thursday for a plan to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control.
“I cannot say that we have full faith, but if this Russian proposal … will really remove the chemical weaponry from Syria, first of all, and will then dismantle it … then this is a way to end this tragedy and a way to end this threat too,” Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said.
HERZLIYA, Israel (Reuters) – The United States would notify Israel hours in advance of an attack on Syria, an Israeli official said on Sunday.
While formally on the sidelines of the Syrian crisis, Israel fears coming under reprisals from its northern foe should the United States launch strikes to punish Damascus for alleged use of chemical weaponry.
JERUSALEM/MOSCOW (Reuters) – Israel tested a U.S.-backed missile system in the Mediterranean on Tuesday but did not announce the launch in advance, prompting a disclosure by Russia that kept the world on edge as the United States weighed an attack on Syria.
The morning launch was first reported by Moscow media that quoted Russian defense officials as saying two ballistic “objects” had been fired eastward from the center of the sea – roughly in the direction of Syria.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu played up Israel’s ability to take on its enemies alone on Sunday after Washington delayed attacking Syria in a surprise move that prompted some Israelis to question their main ally’s resolve on Iran.
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Saturday he would ask Congress to vote on whether to launch strikes to punish the Damascus government for a poison gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel ordered a small-scale mobilization of reservists on Wednesday and strengthened its missile defenses as precautions against possible Syrian attack should Western powers carry out threatened strikes on Syria.
But an Israeli official briefed on a meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet said the Jewish state believed the probability of it be targeted by Syria, its northern neighbor and long-time foe, was low.