Thursday May 17, 201202:57 PM GMT
Bush: Israel asked me to bomb Syria
Former US President George W. Bush in his  Oval Office.
Former US President George W. Bush in his Oval Office.
Sat Nov 6, 2010 6:16AM
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Former US President George W. Bush says Israel had asked him to bomb an alleged nuclear site in Syria in 2007, but he balked at the request due to lack of justification.

In his memoir, “Decision Points,” to hit bookshelves on Tuesday, Bush revealed that he obtained an intelligence report about a “suspicious, well-hidden facility in the eastern desert of Syria”, which closely resembled a nuclear facility at Yongbyon in North Korea, the Jerusalem Post reported on Friday.

Afterwards, he telephoned the then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to discuss what decision should be made in dealing with the allegations that the facility was aimed at developing nuclear weapons, an accusation flatly rejected by Syrian officials at that time.

Excerpts from the memoir also shed light on the “execution of the strike” mentality within the Israeli government and Olmert's disappointment when Bush rejected the request to launch a military strike against the compound.

“George, I'm asking you to bomb the compound,” Olmert asked the 64-year-old former president, according to the excerpts.

Following the telephone conversation, Bush recalls he considered the request and discussed the issue with his national security advisers, but failed to obtain any concrete evidence that could verify Israel's allegations.

The mission to bomb the facility was hashed out but bombing a sovereign state with no warning or announced justification would create severe blowback, he said in his memoir.

“I cannot justify an attack on a sovereign nation unless my intelligence agencies stand up and say it's a weapons program,” Bush responded to the former Israeli premier.

However, Olmert bitterly lamented the “diplomacy option” backed up by the threat of force, which was advocated by the Bush administration in dealing with the Syrian issue.

“Your strategy is very disturbing to me,” Olmert said in response.

Nevertheless, the Syrian nuclear facility was fiercely attacked by the Israeli military in September 2007.

Bush recalls his years in office in a new memoir, which relates his personal decisions during his tenure, which range from his struggle with alcoholism and his giving up drinking in 1986, to his decision to invade Iraq in 2003, to the ordeal of the 2008 Wall Street meltdown.

The 43rd president of the United States, whose approval ratings hit a record low in the twilight of his presidency, maintains that history will judge him more favorably when people read his autobiography.

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