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.
What We're Following See More »
"It was obvious he wasn't prepared." “He only mentioned her email scandal once." "I think he took things a little too personal and missed a lot of opportunities to make very good debate points." That's just a smattering of the reactions of some elected Republicans to Donald Trump's debate performance.
The conventional wisdom is already emerging that Donald Trump opened last night's debate well, but that he faded badly down the stretch. And most viewers apparently witnessed it. "The early Nielsen data confirms that viewership stayed high the entire time. Contrary to some speculation, there was not a big drop-off after the first hour of the 98-minute debate." Final data is still being tallied, but "Monday's face-off may well have been the most-watched debate in American history. CNN and other cable news channels saw big increases over past election years. So did some of the broadcast networks."
As Congress continues to bicker on riders to a continuing resolution, federal agencies have started working with the Office of Management and Budget to prepare for a government shutdown, which will occur if no continuing resolution is passed by 11:59 p.m. on Friday night. The OMB held a call with agencies on Sept. 23, one that is required one week before a possible shutdown. The government last shut down for 16 days in 2013, and multiple shutdowns have been narrowly avoided since then. It is expected that Congress will reach a deal before the clock strikes midnight, but until it does, preparations will continue.