Israel won’t ratify chemical arms treaty before Arabs

    By IANS,

    Jerusalem : Israel will not ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention as long as its Arab neighbours hold chemical weapons, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman told Xinhua Thursday.

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    As Russia and the US push forward a diplomatic move to disarm Syria of its chemical weapon, Israel is aware of the possibility that international organisations would turn a similar request to it too.

    Israel had signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993 but not ratified it.

    The foreign ministry said recently that Israel would not bring the treaty for final vote in the Knesset (parliament), a necessary procedure for its ratification.

    “Unfortunately, other countries in the Middle East have failed to follow suit and have indicated that their position would remain unchanged even if Israel ratifies the convention,” Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry said.

    Syria is thought to hold one of the most advanced chemical arsenals in the Middle East, and Egypt used chemical weapons against Yemen in the 1960s.

    Both Syria and Egypt have not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention.

    “The whole point of signing the treaty is that if it is done on a multi-lateral basis… Since these conditions are not met, we are reconsidering our intent to ratify the convention,” Palmor said.

    “The chemical weapons threat against Israel and its civilian population is neither theoretical nor distant,” said Palmor.

    “These threats cannot be ignored by Israel in the assessment of possible ratification of the convention,” he added.