Report: Israel asks US to put return of Syria envoy on hold
PM Netanyahu asks US to freeze plans to send ambassador to Syria in wake of Assad-Ahmadinejad meeting, London-based Arab newspaper says; leaders of Assad's type interpret US moves as sign of weakness, Bibi reportedly says. Israeli officials deny report
Israel has approached the US Administration and asked that it put on hold plans to send an American ambassador to Damascus, the London-based Sharq al-Awsat reported Saturday. .
Israel submitted the request in the wake of the warm welcome accorded to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his recent Damascus visit, the newspaper's reporter in Israel said, quoting sources close to the government.
However, officials in Jeruaslem flatly denied the report
According to the newspaper, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu relayed the request via Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is currently in Washington, and also through another messenger on behalf of the PM.
In his message, Netanyahu was said to have noted that Syria deliberately responded openly and disparagingly to the American request that it distance itself from Iran.
Sign of weaknessThe PM's remarks referred to Syrian President's Assad disparaging tone when replying to a question on the matter during a joint press conference with Iran's leader. The Syrian president referred to the cooperation agreement signed between the two states, humorously noting that it constitutes the "Syrian distancing agreement from Iran."
According to the report, Netanyahu noted that leaders of Assad's type misunderstand America's responsible positions on the Middle East. The PM claimed that the Syrians view the decision to return the US ambassador to Damascus as a sign of weakness, rather than as a responsible decision aimed at improving the ties between the two countries as Washington intended.
According to Netanyahu, Ahmadinejad understood the American positions in the same way, believing that US President Barak Obama is an inexperienced leader whose dealings with Iran stem from weakness and fear.
Roni Sofer contributed to the report