JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Secretary of State John Kerry over the weekend to thank the American administration for blocking an Egyptian-led effort to convene a regional conference on making the Middle East a nuclear-free zone. The effort was initiated during the recent review conference for signatories of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations in New York. The resolution was put forward by Spain on behalf of Egypt. The United Kingdom and Canada also voted to reject the resolution and were also thanked by Netanyahu.
Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and did not attend the month-long review conference, which ended on Friday, May 22, though the country is widely understood to possess nuclear weapons. Israel is concerned that a regional conference would expose its nuclear capacity, which it has neither confirmed nor denied having. Israel has said it backs moves toward creating a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East, but only once comprehensive peace is in place – terms that Arab countries reject, according to an analysis by the Arms Control Association.