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Israel says no to a nuclear weapons free middle east

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By Leslie Bravery


During Monday’s exploratory nuclear-free Middle East conference in Vienna, the deputy head of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission, David Danieli, drew attention to Israel’s own failures to comply with international law as he gave his reasons given for continuing Israel’s non-co-operation with the IAEA. Danieli told the conference “Political instability, open hostilities, deep mistrust and non-compliance with international obligations are too common in many parts of the Middle East region.” There is no doubt that “non-compliance with international obligations” has always been a cornerstone of Israeli foreign policy.

Tel Aviv’s refusal to admit responsibility for its covert nuclear arsenal contributes to making the goal of a nuclear-free Middle East impossible. The Israeli state refuses IAEA inspections of its nuclear facilities and also refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. David Danieli insisted that the Middle East would have to wait until “normal, peaceful relations exist in the region, when the threat perception of all regional members is low.” Unfortunately Israel’s attitude towards its neighbours doesn’t augur well for the prospect of normal, peaceful relations in the region.

It is unfortunate that at a closed meeting, according to an AP report, Russia joined Washington and London in giving comfort to Israel at such a critical time. The three-nation statement read “While Nuclear Weapon-Free zones improve the security of the entire international community, they do not exist in isolation from other security factors.” Any such zone, the statement said must see “the states in the region united in their aspiration to provide for strengthened regional stability and security.” And yet, the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East is being accorded special treatment once again by powerful members of the world community. That indulgence enables a small but belligerent power to occupy its neighbours’ territories with impunity. The three-nations’ reference to “other security factors” chooses to disregard Israel’s breaches of international law and the families of tens of thousands of Israel’s neighbours, not just Palestinians but Lebanese, Egyptians, Jordanians and Syrians also killed by Israel find this inexplicable.

Israel’s supporters frequently refer to “terrorism” in their attempts todivert attention from Israel’s crimes and in these days of heightened security at airports around the world it should be remembered that in 1954 Israel committed the first air liner hijacking in the Middle East. In an article by Noam Chomsky the Israeli Prime Minister at the time, Moshe Sharett, reveals the motive: “to get hostages in order to obtain the release of our prisoners in Damascus.” (Captured on a spying missionin Syria). Besides keeping Gaza’s international airport unusable due tobombing and shelling, Israel bombed Beirut international airport in 1968, destroying 13 airliners on the ground and returned to bomb the airport’s runways again in 2006. In the same article Chomsky recalls howin October 1956, the Israeli air force shot down an unarmed Egyptian air liner, killing 16 people including four journalists, in a failed assassination attempt. Again, in 1973. Israel shot down a Libyan air liner killing 108 passengers.

While the United States and Israel insist that ‘direct talks’ between Israel and the Palestinians is the only way to achieve peace it would beas well to consider the talks that have already taken place. The negotiations (started in 1991 in Madrid) and continued after the 1993 Oslo agreement were based on UN resolutions that stipulate that Israel must withdraw from the occupied territories (Resolutions 242 and 338). Israel refuses to comply. The rights of Palestinian refugees have also been made perfectly clear in UN resolutions and international law but Israel refuses to respect the provisions of clearly stated internationallaw. Israel also refuses to repatriate the refugees it created, or evento compensate them.

The UN Partition Plan granted no right to ‘the Jewish state’ to expel its non-Jewish population and Chapter 2, Article 2 of the Plan stipulates that “no discrimination of any kind shall be made between theinhabitants on the ground of race, religion, language or sex” and that “no expropriation of land owned by an Arab in the Jewish State … shallbe allowed except for public purposes. In all cases of expropriation full compensation as fixed by the Supreme Court shall be paid previous to dispossession.” (Chapter 2, Article 8).

One doesn’t have to look far for the cause of David Danieli’s lamented absence of “normal, peaceful relations” in the Middle East and those relations will not be improved by pandering to Israeli nuclear-armed blackmail.