Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Secretary of State John Kerry for reaching a deal to secure and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons at a press conference Sunday, emphasizing the impact the deal will have on Iran and its nuclear program.
“The determination of the international community shows regarding Syria will have a direct impact on the Syrian regimes patron Iran,” he said. “Iran must understand the consequence of its continual defiance of the international community by its pursuit towards nuclear weapons.”
Netanyahu continued, “What the past few of days have shown is something I’ve been saying for quite some time; that if diplomacy has any chance to work it must be coupled with a credible military threat.”
Speaking of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that Kerry has vowed to spend months working to resolve, Netanyahu said, ”We both know that this road is not an easy one, but we’ve embarked on this effort with you in order to succeed to bring about a historic reconciliation between Israelis and Palestians that ends the conflict once and for all.”
After the crisis in Syria escalated following the alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians August 21, peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders that were supposed to be the primary focus of Kerry’s work over the next nine months have become less prominent.
The negotiations are likely to remain that way going forward. “We are convinced that the best way to try to work through the difficult choices that have to be made is to do so privately,” Kerry said before returning to details of the Syria deal. “I will not discuss the substance of what we are working on.”
Kerry’s Sunday meeting with Netanyahu is the latest attempt to secure a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, Kerry met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday when U.S. military action against Syria appeared likely.
The secretary has made a peace deal a priority since the beginning of his tenure. He has also involved leaders from other nations in the region in his efforts, although little progress has been made so far. Negotiations are expected to take several months, with a goal to have a deal by summer 2014.
Hopes were high this summer that talks could lead to a two state solution, but multiple meetings with leaders on both sides have not led to significant progress. Israeli settlements are still a major source of tension, and the killing of three Palestinians during an Israeli raid in late August stalled negotiations. The planned nine months of talks must now happen as the U.S. watches to see whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad lets international inspectors in by November.
Netanyahu said Wednesday that Syria must be disarmed, but over the course of the latest crisis he avoided major statements on the crisis across its border even as it canceled leave for members of the military and deployed its Iron Dome missile defense system.