Photo Credit: Kobi Richter/TPS
MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint Arab List)

The Knesset rejected a proposal Wednesday tabled by by Joint List MK Jamal Zahalka to introduce international inspectors to oversee the nuclear reactor in Dimona. Seventy-three MKs voted to reject the measure with just eight voting in favor, all from the Joint List party.

Defending the proposal from the Knesset rostrum, Zahalka noted that nuclear weapons are dangerous even in the absence of war – for instance, if the reactor were to be hit by an earthquake. But he did not hide the bill’s primary objective: To strip Israel of nuclear weapons. Israel has never confirmed or denied the existence of the weapons, but much of the international community believe they do exist.

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“As long as Israel’s got nuclear weapons, other countries in the region are going to do what they can to get them, and they are going to succeed sooner or later,” said Zahaklka, the head of the secular-nationalist Balad faction of the Joint List Party.  “We can’t prevent without removing weapons of mass destruction from the entire Middle East, including Israel.”

Responding to Zahalka, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz refused to address Zahalka’s proposal directly, saying only that the danger of earthquakes are not the purview of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“If Iran were to stop its nuclear activity there would peace in the Middle East. But if Israel were to stop fighting for its existence there would be a second Holocaust,” said Steinitz.

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