BRUSSELS – Israel's military cooperation with NATO is deepening: Israel
took part in the formation of two intelligence reports prepared by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on missile development and the nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
Simultaneously, the Jewish state is extending its ties with NATO in order to prevent the smuggling of weapons in the Middle East, deal with roadside explosive charges and the war on terror.
Senior officials in Jerusalem and Brussels have said that the military cooperation between NATO and Israel would be extended in the near future.
The foreign ministers of the NATO countries confirmed the agreement to extend the ties, and senior organization officials stressed that Israel has added value in the military field, which NATO plans to use.
Sources in the treaty organization emphasized, however, that they have no plans of military presence in the Middle East.
NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told Israeli reporters on Thursday that the organization would consider the issue if three conditions are met: A UN resolution is adopted, a stable and durable agreement is signed and all elements involved in the matter make an appeal.
Scheffer, who will recently end his term, made it clear that NATO had no interest in being involved in defending Israel against the Iranian missile and nuclear threat.
"These are political issues, while NATO is a military organization aimed at defending the territory of the countries which are its members only," he stressed.
Two top level discussions have been held over the past year on the ballistic missiles and the nuclear threat in the Middle East. Senior Israeli officials took part in both meetings, the last of which was held six months ago.
The information provided by Israel was used to prepare two NATO reports distributed among the organization's 26 countries, as part of the struggle to prevent a nuclear and ballistic threat on NATO countries, particularly in Europe.
The cooperation between Israel and NATO is also extending in the military field: The war on arms smuggling to terror organizations across the Mediterranean Sea, particularly by radical Islam. One of NATO's main goals in the war of terror is locating these ships, but thousands of searches on suspicious boats have yet to bear fruit.
Nonetheless, the effort which Israel is part of continues. An intelligence officer of the Israeli Navy is currently stationed in Italy in order to help transfer intelligence gathered in Israel and intercept these ships.
NATO plans to use Israel's extensive security information in terms of explosive devices, and especially roadside explosive charges. The IDF is known to have authority on this issue as a result of its activity in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip in the past 25 years.
NATO also plans to deepen the involvement of Israeli observers in the organization's wide-scale military exercises, as well as integrate Israeli officers in the organization's military academy in Rome.