Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Secretly Visited Jordan to Discuss Options for Destroying Syrian Chemical Weapons

File photo of Netanyahu and King Abdullah (Photo credit: Israel Government Press Office via Haaretz)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently met Jordan’s King Abdullah in a secret visit to next-door Jordan to discuss possibilities of how to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. Quoting unnamed sources, Israeli media confirmed the report which appeared originally in the Arabic paper Al Quds Al Arabi.

The Times of Israel reports methods discussed included air strikes and a ground assault, but that Amman was so far unwilling to back those ideas. The Times of Israel provides more detail on the original Arabic report:

Citing an anonymous source, the paper said that Israel suggested precision strikes on President Bashar Assad’s chemical arsenals, but that the idea was nixed due to the potentially large number of Syrian civilian casualties, as well as the threat to the environment.

The other option, a ground incursion aimed at taking control of the stockpiles and neutralizing them, was reportedly shot down by Jordan due to the large number of casualties that such action would likely entail, the high financial cost, and the detrimental impact on the local and regional balance of power.

Jerusalem and Amman are in constant contact over the situation in Syria while Egypt and Saudi Arabia are unwilling to deal with Israel, the report said. No details were provided, however, as to when Netanyahu visited Jordan. The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office did not confirm the report.

Israel is situated along Syria’s southern border and has been worried that President Bashar Assad’s huge chemical weapons stockpile could fall into the hands of terrorist groups including Hezbollah. It’s also concerned about the possibility Islamic radicals battling Assad could obtain those weapons.

On Sunday, Netanyahu addressed the concerns about Syria’s chemical weapons, saying, “There are dramatic developments in Syria on an almost daily basis.”

“We’re working in cooperation with the United States, and, together with the international community, we’re taking the necessary steps to prepare ourselves for the possibility of changes with a bearing on the sensitive weapons systems in Assad’s hands,” he added.

Earlier this month Jeffrey Goldberg reported in the Atlantic that Israel twice asked Jordanian officials for permission to destroy Syrian chemical weapons sites. Though Israel doesn’t need Jordan’s approval, Goldberg reported that the Israeli government was concerned Assad could retaliate against Jordan for such an attack.