Israel last week publicly acknowledged that in 2007, it bombed Syria’s nascent nuclear reactor before it could go online.
Everyone already knew it was Israel, but now it’s official.
That Israel broke with its policy of ambiguity and the timing of the announcement are topics of much discussion and debate in both the Israeli media and the foreign press.
But of equal interest is the near total lack of responses from Arab governments and news outlets.
One might expect a wave of condemnations over Israel carrying out such a blatant attack on a member of the Arab League. Instead, we haven’t heard a peep.
Speaking to Israel Hayom
, two Arab government officials, one from Egypt and the other from Jordan, provided some insight on this most bizarre aspect of last week’s top news item.
“The Arab silence is understandable, because any statement on the matter will harm the interests of the Arab leaders,” said the Egyptian, noting that his boss, President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, is facing an election this week.
Sissi has been a quiet partner of Israel in combatting the spread of ISIS and other radical Islamists, and wouldn’t want to be seen condemning an Israeli action that ultimately served to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of the Islamic State.
The Egyptian added that when the bombing took place, “then-President Hosni Mubarak and his government didn’t shed any tears over the destruction of the Syrian reactor. Looking back, one can understand the Egyptian concern over the possibility of Syria becoming the first Arab country with a nuclear weapon.”
The Jordanian official concurred that the 2007 airstrike had been as much to the benefit of other Arab states as it was to Israel:
“Israel, by making this public, is also highlighting its concern for the interests of moderate Arab states – preventing a fragile country such as Syria from acquiring nuclear weapons, and the timing of the reactor attack before it became operational to avoid the possibility of polluting the area with radiation.”
Israel has over the past decade been inching closer to its more moderate Arab neighbors in the face of shared regional threats like Iran’s nuclear program and the rise of ISIS. The reactions, or lack thereof, to Israel admitting that it bombed Syria only serve to highlight this new reality.