JERUSALEM, Israel -- While stressing his skepticism, President Barack Obama said he will seriously consider Russia' dramatic proposal to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons.
"My intentions throughout this process has been to ensure that the blatant use of chemical weapons that we saw doesn't happen again," Obama told PBS's Gwen Ifill in an interview Monday. "If, in fact, there is a way to accomplish that diplomatically that is overwhelmingly my preference."
Russia's foreign minister made the proposal and Syria quickly welcomed the idea for the international community to collect and destroy Syria's chemical weapons.
"Syria welcomes the Russian proposal out of concern for the lives of the Syrian people, the security of our country and because it believes in the wisdom of the Russian leadership that seeks to avert American aggression against our people," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said.
While some see Russia's diplomatic proposal as a ploy, others see it as a way for President Obama to save face and avoid taking an action that's increasingly unpopular with Congress and the American people. CBN News Mideast Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell offers his analysis on CBN News Channel Morning News, Sept. 10.
The Russian initiative could help Obama get out of his promised attack. But Washington is skeptical of the Russian-Syrian proposal. U.S. officials believe Congress should vote to keep the pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"It's clear that this proposal comes in the context of the threat of U.S. action and the pressure that the president is exerting, so it's even more important that we don't take the pressure off and that Congress give the president authority that he's requested," Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken said.
The Senate decided to delay its vote so it can consider Russia's proposal.
In the meantime, Israel has distanced itself from the Syrian civil war and the U.S. buildup. But Israel could face retaliatory attacks from Syria in case of a U.S. military strike, so the government is taking no chances.
The Israeli army moved an Iron Dome anti-missile battery to a hill on the outskirts of Jerusalem, marking the first time an active missile defense system has been deployed in the Jerusalem area.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said earlier that Israel is ready to deal with the consequences of a U.S. military strike on Syria. Israelis are still lining up for gas masks.
For now, the world is waiting to see who will make the next move.