Obama put the brakes on Hollande’s Syria attack

Obama reportedly halts Franco-American military action in Syria at the last minute • French President François Hollande allegedly “shocked” at orders to cancel strike mere hours before French fighter jets were set to take off • France: Window of opportunity closing.

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French President François Hollande cancelled an airstrike against Syrian targets scheduled for Aug. 31 at the last minute following a phone call from U.S. President Barack Obama, the French weekly magazine Le Nouvel Observateur reported on Sunday.

According to the report, Hollande was “shocked” when Obama informed him that he intends to seek Congress’ approval for the strike and requested he cancel the military campaign only a few hours before French jets were set to take off. The mission was allegedly planned by the French and U.S. presidents immediately following the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack on rebel-held suburbs east of Damascus, the magazine reported.

According to the report, the French government had already prepared a statement announcing the French strike in Syria, something that French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius had apparently been told to do by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, as per a French official’s statement. “Everything led us to believe that the big day had arrived,” a French official told the magazine.

The French newspaper further reported that with the opening of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, France may have missed its ideal window of opportunity for military action in Syria.

Meanwhile, United Nations inspectors are set to meet Tuesday with representatives from the Syrian foreign ministry to coordinate the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met for the first time with the leadership of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces on Saturday in an a attempt to organize a peace conference on the Syrian conflict for November, as a follow up to last year’s Geneva peace conference.

Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview with an Italian TV station that there is “no reason” that Syria will  not adhere to the Security Council decision to destroy its chemical weapons. He added that his country is committed to providing security to the U.N. inspectors who will arrive in Syria on Tuesday to begin inspecting the facilities used to store chemical weapons.

French diplomat who struck soldier to be expelled from Israel

Marion Fesneau-Castaing, a cultural attaché at the French Consulate in Jerusalem, to leave Israel before the end of the year • Israeli official: This was an isolated incident that does not characterize Israel-France relations.

French Diplomat hit Israeli soldier in the face

French Diplomat hit Israeli soldier in the face

The French diplomat who was involved in a physical clash with Border Police personnel in the Jordan Valley last Friday will be expelled from Israel.

Marion Fesneau-Castaing, a cultural attaché at the French Consulate in Jerusalem, will leave Israel before the end of the year.

A video of the incident near Khirbet al-Makhul last Friday shows Fesneau-Caistaing striking a Border Police officer in the face.

Israel filed a complaint with France about the incident. The two countries decided to handle the matter while “maintaining Israel-France relations,” as an Israeli official put it.

“This was an isolated incident that does not characterize relations between the two countries,” the official said.

The incident occurred as Israeli security forces seized tents and emergency aid that a European delegation was trying to deliver to Palestinians whose homes had been recently demolished in Khirbet al-Makhul. The homes were demolished after Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that they had been built illegally without proper building permits.