Arabs to drop anti-Israel vote at IAEA summit


The improvement in ties between Israel and several Sunni Arab countries has spread into the field of nuclear diplomacy.

For the first time in years, Egypt and other Arab members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are expected not to table a motion at the body's annual assembly in September calling for increased inspection of Israel's nuclear facilities.

Although Israel always managed to have this motion defeated, it was an annual reminder of the hostility of the Arab nations to Israel and its nuclear capabilities.

Israel's Foreign Ministry now expects that there will not be a motion, only a letter of concern - probably from Morocco - at the IAEA gathering in Vienna.

This is mainly due to the major improvement in relations between Jerusalem and Cairo. Egypt and Israel have intensified their co-operation in a range of military and strategic areas, particularly in their joint campaigns against Hamas, Daesh and Iran. Egypt was the main sponsor of the motion in past years, despite having diplomatic relations with Israel.

The improvement in ties has also been visible in the more open diplomacy between the two nations; the appointment of new ambassadors; and the visit to Israel by Egypt's Foreign Minister, Sameh Shukry, two months ago.

Last week, the Egyptian government also recalled from Rio de Janeiro the Olympic judoka Islam El Shehaby, who refused to shake hands with his Israeli opponent, Ori Sasson.

Haaretz's revelation last week about the Sunni states' shift in position angered the Director-General of the Foreign Ministry, Dore Gold, who responded by ordering Israeli diplomats not to have any contacts with journalists.

The directive angered diplomats, one of whom said: "This is not something we can live with. Being able to brief journalists is an essential part of our work and this directive won't last."

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