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What about Israel’s chemical weapons?

Stuart Littlewood

Published: Updated:

UK Foreign Office ministers seem to have great difficulty answering simple questions about Israel’s terror capabilities. It’s as if they don’t want to admit to the awful truth about the violent and lawless regime to which they’ve pledged everlasting support.

I had asked my MP, Henry Bellingham, to table a Parliamentary Question about Israel's nukes. He duly did so.

Mr Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the likelihood of the Government of Israel having a nuclear weapons program; and if he will make a statement.

Alistair Burt: We have regular discussions with the Government of Israel on a wide range of nuclear-related issues. Israel has not declared a nuclear weapons program. We encourage Israel to sign up to the non-proliferation treaty and call on them to agree a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Mr. Burt chose to insult the whole nation by making word-for-word the same empty and dismissive reply he gave Sir Bob Russell two months earlier. Russell had asked what estimate the Secretary of State had made of “the number of nuclear warheads possessed by Israel.”

We all know that Israel is evasive about its nuclear weapons program. But there can be no sensible discussion about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons plans (and certainly no saber-rattling or other silly threats) without factoring-in Israel’s already established nuke stockpile and delivery systems. Why is the Israeli situation so ‘unmentionable’? Let’s take the lid off, so the UK public can have a good look and be aware of the stark facts.

Estimate

Quite obviously, we (and indeed our elected representatives) need an estimate of Israel's nuclear weapons capability by our own and international intelligence sources. So I have urged Bellingham to repeat the question, and keep repeating it, until we get some sense from Burt.

Quite obviously, we (and indeed our elected representatives) need an estimate of Israel's nuclear weapons capability by our own and international intelligence sources.

Stuart Littlewood

I also took up with the MP the chemical weapons issue and the allegations against the Assad regime in Syria - in particular the West's threat of punitive action and foreign secretary William Hague attempt to mislead the country with this statement on the Foreign Office website.

"This is the first use of chemical warfare in the 21st century. It has to be unacceptable, we have to confront something that is a war crime, something that is a crime against humanity. If we don’t do so, then we will have to confront even bigger war crimes in the future.

“So we continue to look for a strong response from the international community that is legal, that is proportionate and that is designed to deter the further and future use of chemical weapons.... It’s very important for a regime like the Assad regime to know that there is a clear response when they cross such an important line. As I say, this is the first use of chemical warfare in this century.”

Hague knows, or should do, that white phosphorus was used by Israel against the densely-packed civilian population of Gaza in 2008/9. “We didn’t hear him or Cameron or Burt urging punitive strikes against Tel Aviv,” I said to Mr Bellingham. “As they now crank up talk of military intervention in Syria we’re told that Syria has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), as if that settles any doubt about Assad’s culpability. But neither has Egypt and she still receives massive military aid from the US.”

The CWC declares that “all States Parties have agreed to chemically disarm by destroying any stockpiles of chemical weapons they may hold and any facilities which produced them, as well as any chemical weapons they abandoned on the territory of other States Parties in the past.”

The Israeli regime still hasn’t ratified the treaty, showing the same contempt for chemical weapons control as for nuclear non-proliferation. The US is a signatory but also a major violator of the CWC while Israel won’t open its chemical weapons facilities (or nuclear programs) to international inspection.

Chemical weapons claims

As for claims that Assad used chemical weapons last month against civilians, incontrovertible evidence seems hard to come by and the UN inspectors’ findings are awaited, so the jury is still out on who was responsible for the atrocity. Many people suspect that the real ‘axis of evil’ - i.e. the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel - are the likely perpetrators. After all, they are the region’s chief troublemakers. And Israel has appalling ‘form’.

In its 1982 war on Lebanon an international commission concluded that the Israelis “committed acts of aggression contrary to international law”, that the government of Israel had no valid reasons for invading Lebanon, and that Israel was responsible for the killings in Sabra and Shatila, which the United Nations General Assembly declared an act of genocide.

In Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon, Amnesty International noted the destruction of entire civilian neighbourhoods by Israeli forces, attacks on bridges with no apparent strategic value, and attacks on infrastructure indispensable to the survival of the civilian population. AI also highlighted the IDF’s use of white phosphorus shells (a crime repeated in Gaza in 2008/9). After the ceasefire some parts of southern Lebanon were uninhabitable for a long time due to unexploded cluster bombs left lying around by the Israelis.

All this I put to Mr Bellingham and asked him: “Would you please put another Parliamentary Question, this time requesting British and allied intelligence assessments of Israel’s chemical weapons capability and asking what pressure is being exerted to persuade the Israeli regime to ratify the CWC and open itself to international inspection? The same question should also be raised about Saudi Arabia as that obnoxious regime actually signed the CWC. Then we might all begin to see the picture more clearly.”

The public are becoming increasingly aware that Prime Minister Cameron and foreign secretary Hague are both fervent members of Conservative Friends of Israel, Hague since he was 15. Cameron is a self-declared Zionist and both have pledged undying love for Israel no matter what. Middle East minister Alistair Burt, was an officer of the party’s Friends of Israel lobby group.

They appear to have formed a defensive shield around that regime and seem determined to keep a lid firmly on inconvenient truths.

All three were happily gung-ho for war in Iraq, according to theyworkforyou.com, and their latest headlong rush to intervene militarily in Syria – now happily thwarted by Parliament – raises questions that will have to be answered on Judgement Day, if not before.

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Stuart Littlewood is a marketing specialist turned writer-photographer in the UK. He is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.