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Oren's book, "Ally," discloses for the first time that in late August and early September 2013, Israel's then-intelligence minister, Yuval Steinitz, floated a plan for Syria to relinquish its chemical weapons to the Russian government and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received Obama's blessing to move forward with the proposal.
To be sure, Oren also writes in his memoir that Israel did not oppose U.S. airstrikes in late August 2013, saying the Jewish state saw no downside with Obama enforcing his red line and hopefully deterring Syria's ally, Iran. But at the same time, he credits Steinitz and Netanyahu with helping prepare the diplomacy that allowed Obama to climb down from the air strikes that Oren himself believed at the time were all but a certainty.
It was in this period that America came closest to directly entering the Syrian civil war. In August 2013, U.N. inspectors confirmed that Bashar al-Assad's regime attacked a rebel position in Ghouta outside of Damascus. Obama reluctantly acknowledged that the Syrian dictator had crossed the administration's red line and used chemical weapons. But after Syria and Russia agreed to a plan in which Assad would acknowledge and dispose of his chemical weapons, the threat of American airstrikes as punishment for the attack in Ghouta subsided.