Israel Won’t Ratify Chemical Weapons Convention

YERUSHALAYIM -

The Israeli Cabinet has decided not to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention, Haaretz reported on Thursday.

A senior official said the Cabinet debated the matter after Syria agreed to a Russian plan to dismantle its chemical weapons arsenal and allow in U.N. inspectors.

Israel signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993, but since it never ratified the accord, it didn’t become subject to the treaty.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu raised the issue at a Security Cabinet session concerning progress in Syrian disarmament.

After a short consultation, the ministers decided to maintain Israel’s existing policy on the matter. The Cabinet took no vote, simply allowing the unratified document to stand.

An Israeli official familiar with the Chemical Weapons Convention issue said that a  number of senior defense officials were in favor of ratification.

“Ratifying the treaty could have strategic and economic advantages,” the official said.

A few weeks ago, Russian and Syrian officials in Assad’s regime called on Israel to join the convention.

But Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told Haaretz at the time that Israel would not do so as long as other states in the region that have chemical weapons refuse to recognize Israel and call for its destruction.

The Prime Minister’s Office refused to comment.