A call for an International Conference for a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East

The question of nuclear policy and the need to discuss it openly has become a cardinal issue, also in Israel. Paradoxically, the focus of the government of Israel and its various apparatuses on the Iranian nuclear policy has raised the issue of nuclear policy in the Middle East as a whole, including that of Israel itself.

Protesters marching in Tel Aviv against an Israeli attack on Iran and for a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East, March 24, 2012

Protesters marching in Tel Aviv against an Israeli attack on Iran and for a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East, March 24, 2012 (Photo: Activestills)

The international community has recognized that the nuclear issue, as well as the issue of weapons of mass destruction generally, is not an internal affair of any state but has implications that reach beyond national and geographic borders, hence requires international attention. From such insights, different international initiatives for abolishing nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction (and some tendencies within the UN) are derived, for example:

1 – The great progress in the issue of dismantling the arsenal of chemical weapons in Syria and the commitment to implement the Security Council resolution through cooperation with the Syrian government.

2 – The new moderate official Iranian discourse on Iran’s nuclear policy, and the Iranian president Ruhani’s commitment to cooperate with the international community to promote a nuclear free zone in the ME.

Those two developments have created favorable conditions for an effort to breach the wall of indifference erected by the Israeli establishment to block public discussion on the nuclear and WMD issue inside Israel.

There is a broad international support, including among the peoples of the Middle East and among the progressive forces inside Israel, for the immediate implementation of the UN general assembly resolution from May 2010. That resolution called on to hold an international conference in Helsinki under the auspices of the UN to promote the creation of a nuclear free zone in the Middle East, which is based on having all the countries of the region – including Israel – joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the treaty on the banning of chemical weapons.

Israel was the only party in the ME that decided to boycott the Helsinki conference. Consequently, the conference was cancelled. In an alternative international conference, which was organized by the peace organizations in Finland last December, and attended by the Finnish foreign minister, the representative of the Haifa based Emil Touma Institute has concluded: “If the official Israel will not come to Helsinki, it remains the task of the peace and progressive forces, in Israel and abroad, to bring Helsinki to Israel.” Hence, the idea of an international conference in Israel was born, aimed at strengthening the demand for a nuclear free zone in the Middle East, as a continuation of many years of activism towards this goal.

The coming together of peace and human rights organizations from abroad, and the widening support among peace and progress forces within Israel, could turn our conference into a landmark in the struggle for nuclear disarmament in the Middle East, as a real and viable alternative to the war plans, and to the calls for a disastrous war against Iran.

Believing that now is the time to step up the Israel-based campaign for WMD disarmament in the region, we have rallied together – a broad spectrum of activists and representatives from peace forces, human rights groups and civil society organizations. Believing that now is the time to intensify the campaign in Israel on matters of Nuclear Weapons and WMD disarmament, and believing that the security of the citizens of Israel and the peoples of the region will not be met by the stockpiling of nuclear bombs and WMDs, and not by disastrous wars – but rather by disarmament, and just peace,  we have announced the formation of a preparatory committee for an International Conference in Israel proper (Haifa) with the title “For a Middle East Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction”. Our decision is to hold the conference in Haifa, at December 5-6, 2013.

We call on all activists, organizations and personalities in Israel, who are supportive of this struggle, to join the preparatory committee and to help build the conference. We call on peace and human rights organizations, on the anti-nuclear movement and to all those who oppose WMDs in the world, to support , and  to participate in the conference, out of grave concern for the security and the future of all the peoples of the region, including the people in Israel.

For the first time we succeeded to have together such a wide range of peace activists, civil society organizations, political groups, anti nuclear and WMD activists, and well known public figures from the Israeli politics and the Israeli academy who expressed their willingness to participate in the preparatory committee of this international conference and in the conference itself.

The Preparatory Committee for the International Conference in Israel 
For a Nuclear Weapons and Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East”

For further information and follow up, please contact:

Issam Makhoul, Chairperson of Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian and Israeli Studies.

Lohami Hagetaot St. 27 ,Haifa 35025, Israel


Phone: +972.52.5787387