Israel Reportedly Meets with Arab States to Discuss WMD-Free Zone

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Nov. 1, 2013, 11:02 a.m.

Seni­or Is­raeli gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials last week re­portedly gathered with rep­res­ent­at­ives from Ar­ab na­tions to re­view the po­ten­tial for con­ven­ing a Middle East­ern con­fer­ence fo­cused on es­tab­lish­ing a re­gion­al ban on all un­con­ven­tion­al weapons, the Times of Is­rael re­por­ted on Thursday.

The gath­er­ing was pre­vi­ously re­por­ted to be aimed at reach­ing agree­ment on the terms and ob­ject­ives of fu­ture ne­go­ti­ations over a re­gion­al weapons of mass de­struc­tion-free zone.

Is­raeli For­eign Min­istry Deputy Dir­ect­or Gen­er­al Jeremy Is­sachar­off and an uniden­ti­fied high-rank­ing Is­raeli Atom­ic En­ergy Com­mis­sion of­fi­cial rep­res­en­ted their gov­ern­ment at the mul­tina­tion­al for­um held in Switzer­land. While Libya, Oman and the United Ar­ab Emir­ates had spe­cially as­signed of­fi­cials rep­res­ent­ing them at the meet­ing, oth­er Ar­ab states as well as Ir­an sent en­voys from their Swiss em­bassies, ac­cord­ing to a re­port in the Hebrew-lan­guage Maariv news­pa­per. U.S., Brit­ish and Rus­si­an of­fi­cials were said to be in at­tend­ance, as was Jaakko Laa­java, the Finnish dip­lo­mat who serves as fa­cil­it­at­or for the hoped-for ne­go­ti­ations.

The Is­raeli For­eign Min­istry did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment on the Maariv re­port. No oth­er in­form­a­tion was re­por­ted on about the Swiss meet­ing.

If the re­port is con­firmed as true, it would mark the first time that Is­raeli, Ar­ab and Ir­a­ni­an gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials have gathered to­geth­er to ham­mer out an agenda for ne­go­ti­at­ing a WMD-free zone, ac­cord­ing to an Arutz Sheva 7 Is­raeli news sta­tion re­port. Ar­ab League of­fi­cials re­portedly were con­cerned that hav­ing Is­rael at the talks would res­ult in a di­min­ished fo­cus in the agenda on the Jew­ish state’s widely as­sumed nuc­le­ar ar­sen­al.

A U.N.-backed ef­fort to in late 2012 to or­gan­ize a con­fer­ence for all Middle East­ern coun­tries nev­er came to­geth­er when at the last minute Is­rael would not con­firm its at­tend­ance. As Is­rael is un­der­stood to pos­sess the re­gion’s sole stock­pile of nuc­le­ar weapons, its par­ti­cip­a­tion was seen as es­sen­tial if any pro­gress was go­ing to be made in ne­go­ti­at­ing a weapons ban.

Is­rael has said it can­not par­ti­cip­ate in WMD-free zone talks un­til con­cerns about the mil­it­ary ap­plic­a­tions of Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar de­vel­op­ment are re­solved and there is an over­arch­ing Ar­ab-Is­raeli peace agree­ment in place. However, the re­cent agree­ment by Syr­ia’s Bashar As­sad to sur­render his large stock­pile of chem­ic­al weapons to in­ter­na­tion­al de­struc­tion is seen to have en­cour­aged re­gion­al hopes for ne­go­ti­at­ing a ban on all bio­lo­gic­al, chem­ic­al and nuc­le­ar arma­ments.

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