Israel has condemned the International Atomic Energy Agency’s decision to recognize Palestine as an observer state as a "violation of international conventions."
Rabat – In a move to secure greater international legitimacy, Palestine agreed to join the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as an observer state on June 19, in exchange for full recognition of statehood from the organization.
As part of the agreement, the IAEA will now have the right to monitor the Palestinian Authority’s nuclear-related activities, such as ensuring the safety of fissionable and radioactive materials.
Although the Palestinian Autohrity does not have access to nuclear reactors or weapons, nuclear material is common in medical facilities and universities, which both utilize equipment constructed with nuclear and radioactive materials.
However, Israel, which has been criticized in the past for its nuclear activities, has condemned the agreement. Emmanuel Nahshon from the Israeli Foreign Ministry called the accord a “violation of international conventions.”
The spokesperson also accused the Palestinian authority of manipulating the international community to gain further recognition.
“This is another attempt by the Palestinian Authority to join international organizations in order to exploit them for political purposes,” Nahshon said.
“Israel does not recognize the attempts of the PA to join such organizations and such institutions as a state, and Israel views this as a violation of international agreements.”
Meanwhile, Israel has received its own host of criticism in the past due to its attitudes towards nuclear proliferation, specifically its refusal to comply with international regulations regarding nuclear energy and weapons.
Previously, Israel had refused to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which is designed to prevent further proliferation of nuclear weapons of mass destruction and promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
At the same time, Israel has refused to acknowledge whether it currently possesses nuclear weapons or not. This has led many to believe that the country does possess such weapons yet refuses to disclose such information.
Israel has also restricted IAEA inspectors to specific sites and only with supervision from Israeli authorities. One of the sites which IAEA inspectors are barred from entering is a nuclear facility outside of the city of Dimona, which has been suspected of harboring a nuclear weapons development program.
Regardless, the IAEA has refused to take a particular side, and has instead assured Israel and the international community of its neutrality towards political issues and of its exclusive concern with the prevention of nuclear conflict.
“The agreement does not in any way imply an expression of a position regarding the legal status of any state or territory or its powers or demarcation of its borders,” said one spokesperson from the IAEA.
Meanwhile, Saleh Abdel-Shafi, the Palestinian Authority’s representative to Austria, touted the agreement as a step in proving Palestine’s dedication towards international cooperation.
“Signing this agreement constitutes additional proof that the State of Palestine is a full and active partner in the international community,” Abdel-Shafi said.
There has not yet been a response from the United States; however, the US passed legislation in the 1990s to prohibit Congress from funding any UN organization which recognizes non-recognized states.
As a result, the more than $200 million which the US currently contributes to the IAEA every year could be jeopardized, which puts the IAEA at risk of losing a large proportion of its funding.