Israel has accused its Arab neighbors of delaying talks aimed at making the Middle East a region free of nuclear weapons, according to reports in The Jerusalem Post newspaper. In an official statement issued by the Israeli delegation currently observing the Review Conference of Non-Proliferation Treaty in New York, Jerusalem expressed disappointment over what it says is its neighbor’s hesitancy in engaging in direct negotiations.
“If a serious regional effort has not emerged in the Middle East during the last five years, it is not because of Israel,” read the statement.
The Israelis indicated their willingness to agree to a timetable for further discussions on the issue following five preliminary meetings in Switzerland, the last of which took place in June of last year. Israel says that it was Arab governments who failed to follow up on Jerusalem’s readiness for further talks. The Israelis said that Arab refusal to engage in direct talks only serves to highlight the lack of faith and the deep level of suspicion that is prevalent in the region. In light of the continued tension, Israel says it is difficult to see how there can be any regional cooperation on such serious issues like nuclear disarmament and supervision. Israel is believed to be the only Middle Eastern country with an arsenal of nuclear weapons.