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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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May 3rd, 2013
05:51 PM ET

Ambassador: Israel will 'not remain passive' if Syria transfers chemical weapons

There are reports that the Israeli air force flew into Lebanon's air space to prevent Syrian rebels or authorities from delivering arms to Hezbollah. Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren said he would not comment on operational details, but said that Israel would take action under specific circumstances.

"If the Syrian regime tries to transfer chemical weapons, or what we call game changing weaponry, to terrorist organizations, particularly to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel will not remain passive," said Oren.

In other words, if Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and his forces attempt to transfer chemical weapons, Israel would take military action to stop it.

The head of the Israel Defense Forces intelligence research and analysis division said last week that Syria is using chemical weapons. But then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not confirm the use of such weapons when the two spoke by phone.

"Like all intelligence assessments there are varying degrees of probability," said Oren. "In that world 100% is almost an oxymoron."

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday said the Obama administration is considering, among many other options, arming the rebels in Syria. The Syrian rebels is a varied group, some of whom are affiliated with al Qaeda.

"If the United States does decide to provide lethal weaponry to rebel groups, that those rebel groups be very carefully vetted," said Oren, who quantified that Israel is not making any policy recommendations to the U.S. administration.

"We had some bad experiences in the past, when Gadhafi fell in Libya there were shoulder fire missiles that travelled very, very fast to our backyard from Libya," said Oren. "We ask that they be vetted in Syria."

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