First, Israel has what is commonly called a posture of nuclear opacity. This means that although Israel has an arsenal of nuclear weapons, the arsenal has never been formally acknowledged or inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Combined with the fact that Israel is the only Middle Eastern nation that is not a signatory of the NPT, Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal actually drives its neighbors and enemies to pursue deterrent weapons.
Second, Israel and the U.S. have consistently undermined attempts by the Arab League to host a conference on the possibility of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Egypt has, in fact, been promoting this idea in the 1970s, but the effort did not gain steam until 2009, when the P5 took it up and decided to host the conference in Helsinki in 2012. The conference was delayed until some undetermined time in 2013, largely because Israel refuses to attend. Israel’s logic is simple if misguided: why should they attend a conference designed to pressure them to admit and dismantle their nuclear arsenal, particularly when they are not party to the NPT?
Whetever the motivations for the WMD-free zone conference might be, I think it is nevertheless a noble goal and should be pursued. Israel obviously has concerns about both its security and also the regional supremacy that they maintain through their nuclear arsenal, but the fact that they are not a signatory of the NPT is unacceptable and the rest of the region has legitimate reasons to be peeved.