For the first time since Egypt voted for the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, the Arab state has voted in Israel’s favor at the United Nations, this time to support Israel’s bid for membership of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space Affairs (COPUOS). The bid passed, admitting Israel to the committee, which governs the exploration and use of space for peace, security and development.
One hundred and seventeen UN member states voted in Israel’s favor, 21 countries abstained, including many Arab states, and only one country – Namibia – voted against.
Qatar, Iraq, Tunisia, Syria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Kuwait, and Algeria were among the Arab nations who abstained from the vote, despite the fact that some of them benefitted by its passing.
In a statement, the Israeli Mission to the UN said, “The vote today proves that there are some countries who find it more important to bash Israel than to contribute to the international community, like Qatar who abstained on the vote, even though it was a vote on its own acceptance to the committee.”
Spokesman for the Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs Ahmed Abu Zeid refused to comment on Egypt’s position previous to the vote, but afterwards he faced harsh criticism from within Egypt. In response, he asserted that it was necessary for Egypt to vote for Israel in order to secure admittance to the committee for a number of Arab nations.
Within Egypt, the move panned by politicians and activists, who severely criticized Egyptian Military President Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi.
Egypt and Israel have been officially at peace since the two countries signed a peace treaty in 1979. In September, President el-Sisi said that more Arab countries should join the treaty and benefit from peace with Israel.