Member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency rejected a resolution initiated by Arab League nations criticizing Israel’s alleged nuclear abilities.
The resolution, which is non-binding, condemns Israel, calls on it to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and make its nuclear facilities subject to international supervision. Fifty-eight countries voted against the text and 45 states for. The representatives of many nations chose not to attend the vote.
A senior official in the Foreign Ministry noted that Arab League nations decided this year to make a special effort in order to pass the resolution, which was rejected last year as well. The main reason for which is the ongoing negotiations between Israel and Arab states, brokered by Finland’s deputy foreign minister, aimed at convening a summit for a nuke-free Middle East.
During the five rounds of negotiations held in Switzerland, Israel presented a series of preconditions for opening multi-lateral talks over regional peace in the Middle East. Though Western states accepted the Israeli initiative, viewing it as a sound base for negotiations, the Arab states dismissed the preconditions out of hand, refused to discuss the matter further and started pushing forward the resolution condemning Israel for its alleged nuclear arsenal.
For the last three months the Foreign Ministry and the Israel’s nuclear agency made a global diplomatic effort to foil the Arab nations’ efforts. All of Israel’s diplomatic missions worldwide were conscripted for the task, and Israeli ambassadors raised the issue to the highest officials in their respective countries.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon also joined the efforts, and, dividing the relevant countries between them, called up their counterparts around the globe and tried to convince them to vote against the resolution.
The Foreign Ministry sent envoys to several key nations to enlist their support, or at least to make sure they abstain or leave the hall during the vote. For instance, the ministry covertly sent former ambassador Pinhas Avivi to Latin America. Avivi, who served as a deputy director in charge of multilateral issues until his retirement last year, met with senior officials in the governments of Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Peru, asking for their support.
In addition, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi discussed the issue during a state visit in Myanmar and with officials from Australia and New Zealand, during a Pacific nations summit several weeks ago. Israel has also put in a special effort with a number of African countries, including Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia, all of which eventually voted against the resolution.
A senior official in the Foreign Ministry noted the U.S. administration aided Israel’s efforts. Senior officials in the U.S. State Department were kept apprised by their Israeli counterparts since the beginning of the efforts against the proposed resolution. The American envoy to the IAEA worked closely with the Israeli envoy over the last weeks to raise opposing votes. American ambassadors worldwide were also instructed to relay messages against the Arab resolution.
Lieberman said Thursday that the rejection of the Arab proposed resolution was a “victory of Israeli diplomacy.” Rejecting the Arab proposal, he said, “sends an important message which says that the international community will not play along with an attempt to point a finger at Israel.” Lieberman said that everyone, including the Arab nations behind the proposal, knows that Iran’s nuclear program, and not Israel, is a threat to stability in the Middle East and to world peace.
Lieberman added that Instead of criticizing Israel, it would be better if the Arab states behind the proposal imagine “what it would happen had Syria been successful in building a nuclear reactor in Deir al-Zour, and if the reactor would have fallen in the hands of the Islamic State group of the Al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.”
According to foreign reports, the Syrian nuclear reactor was destroyed in an Israel Air Force strike in 2007.
Jerusalem slammed the Arab countered after the proposal was rejected. “It seems that only anti-Israel initiatives in international organizations can unite Arab League members,” a statement by the Foreign Ministry said. “Israel remains committed to regional dialogue with its neighbors, in the broadest sense, to the creation of mutual trust, to deal with the challenges of our time and to reach security and regional stability.”
The Foreign Ministry expressed hope that now, after the resolution was rejected, “the Arab states behind the proposal will understand the futility of choosing such votes in international bodies over direct dialogue to promote mutual interests in the region.”