Why Israel skips key nuclear gathering?

By David Harris
0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, April 13, 2010
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As world leaders gathered in Washington for a summit on nuclear security on Monday, one noticeable absentee was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel announced a week ago it would dispatch a junior minister to the United States for the round table parley.

It is widely believed that Netanyahu decided not to attend because he did not want the event to be turned into an attack on Israel because of its "policy of nuclear ambiguity."

Netanyahu had hoped the summit would focus on Iran's nuclear weapons program which Israel is convinced. Most leading Western governments share that view, but Tehran denies the charge, insisting its nuclear industry will only be used for civilian purposes.

While local analysts have different opinions over whether Israel should take part in the meeting, they believe it wouldn't bring about a change in the country's nuclear policy.

To attend or not

The Israeli premier should have travelled to Washington this week, according to Israeli-based expert Meir Javedanfar. The meeting was an opportunity for Israel to be center stage and offer its valid views as part of the club of nations.

It had a chance to help build a consensus at the highest level regarding Iran but also to discuss the threat of nuclear terrorism, which U.S. President Barack Obama has made his agenda topper during the course of the past several days.

The conference takes place as Israel marks Holocaust Remembrance Day, Javedanfar points out. It is a time when there is much sympathy for the Jewish people, and Israel could have used the occasion to speak of its concerns of a possible nuclear holocaust.

However, a very different view is adopted by veteran Israeli journalist Michael Karpin.

"From Israel's perspective, I don't think this conference is all that important," said Karpin on Monday.

No matter what is said in Washington, Israel has no intention of changing its policy of ambiguity, and the U.S. is certainly not pressing it to do so. As a result, Israel has no real message for the summit, Karpin told Xinhua.

The fact that Egypt and Turkey intend to use the forum to attack Israel for its nuclear policy is nothing new. Cairo does so every year at meetings of the International Atomic Energy Agency ( IAEA) in Vienna, he added.

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