Israeli, Arab Reps Meet to Discuss WMD-Free ME

In diplomatic first, Israeli, Arab representatives meet prior to conference on WMDs in Middle East. Israel still fears being singled out.

Sarah Leah Lawrent, M. Miskin ,

Arab League meeting in Cairo (file)
Arab League meeting in Cairo (file)
AFP photo

Last week, at a secluded location in Switzerland, Israeli senior officials met with representatives of much of the Arab world to arrive at terms for the convening of an international committee for the demilitarization of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

The Arab League has pushed for more world pressure on Israel over its nuclear program, and has called to end Israel’s nuclear program as well as Iran’s.

According to the report in Maariv, representing the Israeli side in the committee were Deputy Director General for Strategic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jeremy Issacharoff, and a senior representative of the Atomic Energy Commission.  On the Arab side, the UAE, Oman and Libya sent senior representatives from their respective capital cities, and diplomatic representatives from Saudi Arabia , Bahrain, Iran and other Arab countries took part in the meeting.

There were no details regarding the content of the meeting.

This is the first time representatives from Arab countries have agreed to sit together with Israel to discuss a committee agenda. Arab League officials feared that a meeting with Israel would lead to the toning down of the agenda regarding Israel’s alleged nuclear program.

Israeli officials have argued that the time is not yet ripe for a meeting on demilitarization of WMDs. Iran continues to threaten to destroy Israel, and most Arab states have not yet agreed to sign peace treaties with Israel, they note.

They expressed concern that the committee would single out Israel as the sole Middle East nation with nuclear weapons, despite the fact that other states in the region pose a more serious threat.

However, Israel has said it is willing to meet with Arab representatives and come to a consensus regarding demilitarization talks.

The United States has criticized the Arab League's focus on Israel on the WMD issue. The United Nations, however, agreed in 2010 to a resolution targeting Israel for criticism.