by Adam Gonn
JERUSALEM, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- A Russian proposal for Syria to hand over control of its chemical weapons to international supervisers may avert an almost certain American attack on Syria.
U.S. President Barack Obama stated last month that the United States would punish the Syrian government over its alleged use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21, and initiated a buildup of American forces in the region.
However, the Russian initiative helps to calm down the tension. The Syrian government has voiced support for the initiative and France later announced that they would seek a United Nations resolution setting out the terms for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons. There might be a diplomatic way out.
A diplomatic solution could benefit Israel, analysists said. It not only lowers the risk of Syrian retaliation on its southern neighbor for an American strike, but reduces threat of chemical weapons if they are put under international control.
Eyal Zisser, a professor of Tel Aviv University, told Xinhua on Tuesday that if the diplomatic initiatives were to succeed, it " would be more than a double victory because Israel has an interest in stability and in having a weak Bashar al-Assad in power and that what we [would] get."
Although, some Israeli politicians has expressed concerns that Syria might use this idea to buy time, Zisser argued that "clearly Israel is not against it."
ISRAEL SEEKS STABILITY
The Israeli military and political figures have been working under the assumption that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad wouldn' t dare strike Israel, since an Israeli retaliation would severely cripple his military capability and undermine al-Assad's main goal of defeating the rebels.
Nevertheless, Israel has undertaken some preparations such as the deployment of the Iron Dome anti-missile system outside Jerusalem, and in the northern part of Israel, the Iron Dome batteries have been joined by the Arrow and Patriot missile defense systems.
Ely Karmon, a researcher of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, echoed Zisser and said that if a deal were to be worked out and "if it results in some kind of ceasefire or negotiations that will tranquilize the Syrian front, from an Israeli point of view, it's okay."
Karmon added that one of the main reasons for the Israeli acceptance is because "chemical weapons is more of a psychological threat but it's very important when we see how the people in Israel is reacting to these threats."
Karmon was referring to the tumultuous scenes that took place at gasmask distribution centers across Israel during the days after the alleged chemical weapon attack in Syria, when Israelis get into fist-fights as people were queuing up to get their government issued gasmasks.
OBSTACLES NEED TO BE REMOVED
Despite the positive statements on Tuesday, there are still a number of details that needs to be arranged, including where the chemical weapons would be transferred and how to make sure that Syria hands over its entire stockpile, which is regarding as one of the largest in the world.
Israel is concerned with the prospect of the Syrian government trying to hide some of the stockpile by giving it to the Lebanese- based Hezbollah which Israel has been engaged in a number of wars and is believed to have at least 60,000 rockets and missiles that can reach entire Israel.
Karmon said that a negotiated solution between Russia and the United States on the issue would be the best solution, but he noted that there are a number of problems with the initial Russian proposal.
"In order to do this, one has to achieve a ceasefire. Not only a ceasefire but also some kind of a distance between the regime forces and the rebel forces because chemical weapon storages are sometimes very close to the battlefronts," Karmon said.
He added that "the second issue is who controls and who takes the weapons from these specific 20 sites and concentrates them in one place, because in order to destroy them one has to have a special monitoring team and all necessary facilities."
There is also the issue of reaching an agreement with the rebels who have shown no interest in negotiation with anyone. Without their consent, trying to move large amount of chemical weapon could be a dangerous undertaking.
Zisser noted that while the United States has reacted positively, although skeptically, to the Russian proposal, "unless the Americans are serious about the attack there will be no move on the other side."
So the American navy vessels in the Mediterranean and the Israeli missile defense system are likely to remain in place, while the diplomatic process continues.