Netanyahu denies urging Kerry to reach deal on Syria

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office is denying a report that Benjamin Netanyahu urged Secretary of State John Kerry to talk to Russia about a deal to destroy Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons.

The Wall Street Journal, citing American and Middle Eastern officials briefed on the exchange, reported Sept. 16 that Netanyahu and Kerry spoke about the issue on Sept. 11. During the conversation, according to the newspaper, Netanyahu said he believed Russia was not bluffing about striking a deal on an international inspection of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.

The report also said Israel shared U.S. concerns that military strikes on Syria in retaliation for its use of chemical weapons would strengthen the Syrian rebels, who are linked to al-Qaida, and would allow them to take possession of Syria’s chemical weapons.

An official from the Prime Minister’s Office said the report was inaccurate.

Under the deal agreed to by the United States and Russia last weekend, Syria would provide a full accounting of its chemical weapons stockpile within a week, and the arsenal would be destroyed “in the soonest and safest manner,” according to the State Department. — jta