NATO has allowed Israel to open a permanent mission at its HQ after Turkey lifted its veto on Israeli activity within the bloc.
NATO said in a statement that Israel’s Ambassador to the European Union David Walzer would now also head its mission at alliance headquarters.
The foreign ministry of Israel, which is not a NATO member but has partner status as a participant in the alliance’s Mediterranean Dialogue programs, welcomed the move.
In 2011, Turkey vetoed Israel’s demand for representation at NATO’s HQ. Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Israeli officials saying Turkey’s lifting of the veto reflects a desire to normalize relations with Israel.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said in its statement late on Tuesday that the decision was the result of “prolonged Israeli diplomatic efforts.”
“I welcome the NATO announcement,” the statement quoted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as saying. “This is an important step in helping Israel’s security.”
— RT (@RT_com) May 5, 2016
Netanyahu further added that this was a sign of “the willingness of many organizations to cooperate with us in the field of security.”
The decision was seen by some experts as carrying more of a symbolic than strategic weight, the website Defense News reported on Thursday.
“It’s not as if Israel is becoming a NATO member. It certainly doesn’t commit NATO allies to come to our aid if under attack, which in any case is something we don’t need or want,” the news website quoted DeZaki Shalom, a fellow at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, as saying.
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) May 4, 2016
While not one of NATO’s 28 members, Israel has been described by the international military coalition as a “very active partner,” notably through its membership in the Mediterranean Dialogue group since 1994.
(MEMO, MAAN, PC)