Whbee to Arab states: Stop vilifying Israel

Foreign Ministry expresses frustration over Arab turnout at seminar promoting int'l cooperation.

Majallie Whbee 298.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Majallie Whbee 298.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
"The time has come [for Arab states] to cease using international forums to vilify Israel and to [stop] indulging in point-scoring, which merely serves to postpone confidence-building in the region; and to publicly condemn those forces of hatred and violence which, ultimately, undermine everything they stand for," said Deputy Foreign Minister Majallie Whbee Tuesday at the Mediterranean Seminar in Tel Aviv held by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The Mediterranean Seminar is part of an effort by the 56-nation OSCE to promote cooperation on economic, political and human rights issues with six countries of the Mediterranean basin - Israel, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt. Yet only two junior diplomats, a political officer from Jordan's embassy in Vienna and an Egyptian staffer from the country's embassy in Israel, arrived from all the Arab countries invited. This, while dozens of full ambassadors and a handful of parliamentarians and ministers came from OSCE member states, and ministers, MKs and diplomatic officials played host from Israel. "It is in this context that we urge the pragmatic countries of the region to ask themselves what is the greatest threat to their future," said Whbee to the assembled delegates. "Is it Israel, which has no designs on any of them, or is it the hatred and viciousness propounded by those who strive to drag them into a backward world order?" In his speech to the seminar, Whbee noted the importance of international cooperation. "A Mediterranean partnership grounded in equality, human rights and democracy will not just be a safe place for its own citizens but an important champion of those values in a very unequal and troubled world," he said. "A strong partnership can bring hope; it can assist the debate on global problems from climate change to economic globalization, from international criminality to terrorism, from conflict resolution to disease eradication. These issues do not respect borders. They need international cooperation and debate." Meanwhile a very senior Foreign Ministry official expressed the frustration of the ministry at the Arab turnout. "We could have held this seminar at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, but we didn't out of consideration for the Arabs," the official told The Jerusalem Post. "Apparently, the Arabs are unwilling to do their part to have a process. They're not even willing to come to Israel." The official said nearly all the Arab parties had initially agreed to come, but as the conference grew nearer they canceled their participation. "The Moroccans canceled just this Friday."