Netanyahu meets with defense officials to discuss Syrian chemical weapons
The meeting, held in the middle of the political uncertainty raised by Israel's recent national election results, was attended by the Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, Mossad intelligence agency chief Tamir Pardo, IDF intelligence director Aviv Kochavi and Israel Air Force commander Amir Eshel, according to Haaretz.com.
Defense Minister Ehud Barack was not in attendance at the meeting because he was in Davos at the international economic conference. In his place, Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter attended.
Netanyahu was recently briefed on the security situation in Syria, and many viewed the meeting as extraordinary only because of its timing. It occurred one day after the elections, as politicians were preparing to negotiate the formation of a new governing coalition, Haaretz.com reports.
The prime minister is reportedly concerned about the growing security vacuum in the Golan region and potential for extremist elements to acquire Syrian chemical weapons. Netanyahu recently directed defense officials to begin construction of a security fence in the Golan Heights.
"We are constructing a more secure barrier from here to the point where the three borders [Israel, Syria and Jordan] meet in the southern Golan Heights," Netanyahu said, Haaretz.com reports. "I wish to consider the possibility of extending this fence to [Mount] Hermon so there is a strong buffer along the entire border with Syria."