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Ya'alon's presence during Iranian minister's speech sets a precedent

March 15, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Israeli media outlets have been discussing the fact that Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon was present as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke on Sunday at the Munich international security conference. The media said that this “set a precedent”. The gesture was made, claimed Israel Radio, following conciliatory remarks made by Zarif about Jews. He noted that the Holocaust was “tragically cruel and should not happen again”.

According to Walla! news website, however, Ya’alon’s tone in the Iranian minister’s presence was less amicable. He reiterated Israel’s rejection of “a nuclear Iran” and he warned the government in Tehran not to develop or otherwise seek to acquire nuclear weapons.

Israeli officials have always boycotted speeches given by Iranian officials; Israel’s delegation walked out of the UN General Assembly last year when Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani rose to speak. Moreover, Israel opposed the interim agreement reached in November between Tehran and the 5+1 states in Geneva. The agreement required Iran to open its nuclear installations to inspection by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency and grant inspectors wide access to its nuclear facilities. The agreement also provides for Iran to end some uranium enrichment activities in return for a partial easing of the sanctions imposed on the country during what is regarded as an initial six-month phase. At the time, Israel described the interim agreement as “a historic mistake”.

Tehran insists that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only, such as the production of nuclear energy for fuel. Iran accuses the government in Tel Aviv of incitement in order to distract the attention of the West away from Israel’s own nuclear arsenal, which is not subject to international monitoring by the UN or any other authority.