JERUSALEM – Israelis reacted warily Saturday to the Obama administration’s decision to delay a strike against Syria, warning the move would likely be seen in the region as a sign of weakness.
Officials and pundits were particularly worried about how the delay would be interpreted in Iran, which is facing U.S. pressure to halt its nuclear development program, which the U.S. and Israel believe is aimed at building nuclear weapons.
Iran will see the U.S. as a “paper tiger,’’ said analyst Zvi Yehezkeli of Israel’s Channel 10.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued no formal reaction Saturday night.
But some predicted Obama’s hesitation would cause many in Israel to doubt the U.S. promise to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. The U.S. has urged Israel – which is believed to possess the region’s only nuclear weapons – to refrain from attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities and leave the job to America’s military, if necessary.
The delay in responding to the Syrian government’s alleged chemical-weapons attack on its own people is expected to give more credence to those, including Netanyahu, who have argued that Israel should launch a unilateral strike against Iran, rather than rely on the U.S.