Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly extended his gratitude to the United States for blocking an Egyptian-led U.N. proposal for a nuclear weapons ban in the Middle East. The Israeli prime minister, who has had a turbulent relationship with the White House, thanked both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in a telephone call, a senior Israeli official said Saturday.
"The United States kept its commitment to Israel by preventing a Middle East resolution that would single out Israel and ignore its security interests and the threats posed to it by an increasingly turbulent Middle East," the official told Reuters.
Israel also reportedly thanked Britain and Canada for joining the U.S. in blocking plans for a regional forum that could have produced what U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon referred to as “a new collective vision on how to achieve a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.”
Analysts have said the Egyptian-backed plan could have forced Israel to reveal whether or not it has nuclear weapons. U.S. Undersecretary of State Rose Gottemoeller accused Egypt and its Arab allies of being unwilling to let go of “unrealistic and unworkable conditions" for future talks and argued some participants were trying to “cynically manipulate” the process.
Israel’s government, which is not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has never confirmed or denied the widespread assumption it possesses an extensive nuclear weapons program and the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal. The Jewish state had said it would only consider joining the NPT once it was at peace with its Arab neighbors and regional adversary Iran.
Netanyahu’s public gratitude for Washington’s backing marks a rare note of diplomatic unity with the Obama administration, which has tussled with the Israeli prime minister and his right-wing government over regional issues, including U.S.-led international efforts to negotiate with Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.