Israel: The Rogue State in the Near East

A recent conference of a 189 nations reaffirmed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty and a desire for “continued efforts” to rid the world of nuclear weapons.  The conference focused heavily on the Middle East with mention of Iran (not surprising) but also a short reference to Israel (surprising).  However, shortly after the conference a wave of protest erupted because of the “singling out” of Israel at the conference.

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It is no surprise that condemnation of Iran, Syria, Hizballah, Hamas, Egypt, and other Arab and Muslim countries has become a common occurrence. Indeed, condemnation of Iran and its “nuclear ambitions”-murky and questionable as they are- has become a standard line in the US and Israel.  Yet, Israel stands as one of only three major powers that are not signatories of the NPT; alongside India and Pakistan.  Furthermore, Israel has, in the past, offered to sell nuclear technology to other regimes, even those of apartheid South Africa. Israel has long been a rogue state in the Near East; failing to adhere to international agreements on the conduct of war, signing the NPT, or following UN Security Council resolutions.  As Avi Shlaim has noted,

This brief review of Israel’s record over the past four decades makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with “an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders”. A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practises terrorism – the use of violence against civilians for political purposes. Israel fulfils all of these three criteria…Israel’s real aim is not peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbours but military domination.

Israel and the US shout about Iran’s failure to allow IAEA inspectors in and inspect Iranian nuclear facilities; incidentally, Iran usually does allow inspectors in, albeit on a limited basis.  In contrast, Israel rarely, if ever, allows IAEA inspectors into the country. Why the double standard?

The standard line that Israel stands alone while all the Arabs and Persians seek its destruction has overflowed the media in the past week.   According to National Security Advisor Jim Jones

“”Because of gratuitous way that Israel has been singled out, the prospect for a conference in 2012 that involves all key states in the region is now in doubt and will remain so until all are assured that it can operate in a unbiased and constructive way,”

The US is continuing to show its hypocritical stance towards Israel; a country who has made regular threats to its neighbors- credible threats.  For example, Israel has just sent three nuclear submarines to the Gulf near the Iranian coastline.  According to one sub commander,

The submarines could be used if Iran continues its programme to produce a nuclear bomb. “The 1,500km range of the submarines’ cruise missiles can reach any target in Iran,”

While Israel condemns Hizballah, Syria, and Iran for having weapons that can target all of Israel, it is apparently okay if Israel sends nuclear submarines off the coast of Iran.  This action is bound to cause more tension and make war or conflict much more likely.  If Iran sent nuclear submarines (which they don’t have) to the Meditarranean, undoubtedly the US and Israel would condemn the action as “aggressive” or “dangerous”.

The conference on a nuclear free Near East seems to have already failed.  If Israel is not part of the negotiations, it is unrealistic to think Iran or any other country will submit itself to negotiations.  Furthermore, it is unlikely that any sort of peace agreement in Israel/Palestine will make any serious headway.

According to a senior Israeli official, “Netanyahu will ask Obama for American guarantees to block any practical measures, including an international conference on the matter.”  The Obama administration has, in rhetoric, been quite critical of Israeli policies; especially settlements.  However, in policy, the Obama administration is not all that different from previous US administrations. Let’s hope that the Obama administration can see the bias in its policy and help the peace process by demanding Israel, like other countries in the region, sign the NPT and abide by international law.

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