POLITICS: PennAve

Pro-Israel groups silent on new chemical weapons deal with Syria

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Politics,Congress,Israel,Syria,PennAve,Rebecca Berg,Chemical Weapons,Bashar Assad

With Syria agreeing to forfeit its chemical weapons to international control, the pro-Israel groups that had vocally demanded that the U.S. attack the war-torn nation and its president, Bashar Assad, have grown quiet.

The Republican Jewish Coalition and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee were pressing lawmakers last week to support President Obama’s initial push for limited military strikes on Syria in retaliation for the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons against its own people.

“Failure to approve this resolution would weaken our country's credibility to prevent the use and proliferation of unconventional weapons and thereby greatly endanger our country’s security and interests and those of our regional allies,” AIPAC said of the resolution before Congress.

But since Syria announced plans to cede control of its chemical weapons arsenal, the same powerful pro-Israel interests have moved to the sidelines and have yet to declare what they want lawmakers to do now.

An AIPAC spokesperson said the organization did not plan to release a new statement, and RJC had no comment.

Both organizations, and others like them, wield considerable persuasive power over some lawmakers, in particular those who might seek campaign contributions later from pro-Israel or Jewish interests.

The Israeli government has kept relatively quiet on the issue, but a senior Israeli expressed cautious optimism Thursday for the disarmament plan.

“I cannot say that we have full faith, but if this Russian proposal ... will really remove the chemical weaponry from Syria, first of all, and will then dismantle it ... then this is a way to end this tragedy and a way to end this threat too," Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said, according to Reuters.

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