Netanyahu: Israel ready to defend itself despite deal over Syrian chemical weapons

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he hopes a deal between the United States and Russia over Syria’s chemical weapons “will show results,” but that Israel remains “ready to defend itself.”

At a ceremony Sunday morning at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem marking the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, Netanyahu addressed for the first time the understanding achieved between the United States and Russia over the weekend.

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“These understandings will be tested by results – the full destruction of the stocks of chemical weapons that the Syrian regime has used against its own people,” Netanyahu said.

“The test of results also applies to the international community’s diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons. Here as well, it is not words that will be decisive, but rather actions and results,” he added.

Netanyahu cautioned that “Israel must be prepared and ready to defend itself by itself against any threat. Today, this ability and this willingness are more important than ever.”

During a news conference on Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that they had  reached an agreement under which Syria will give a full account of its chemical weapons stockpile within a week, and that it will be destroyed  ”in the soonest and safest manner ,” according to the State Department. The agreement came after three days of talks in Geneva.

Kerry told reporters that President Obama retains the right to attack Syria if it does not comply with the plan, with or without international backing.

Syria formally agreed on Saturday to the Chemical Weapons Convention, the United Nations announced Saturday.

The document signed by Syria, however, stipulates that “the accession of the Syrian Arab Republic to the Convention shall not in any sense imply recognition of Israel, and shall not entail entering into any relations with Israel in the matters governed by the provisions thereof.”