Photo: AP
Is crisis between Israel, U.S. deepening?
Photo: AP
Photo: Sebastian Schneir
Yehiel Horev
Photo: Sebastian Schneir
Photo: Yotam Frum
Amos Yaron
Photo: Yotam Frum

Crisis with U.S. over arms sales

Bush administration demands four Israeli security heads be sacked over China sales; Mofaz dispatches former ambassador to limit damage

WASHINGTON - The United States is demanding the dismissal of four senior defense ministry officials over weapons sales to China.


Ynet has learned the officials are Defense Ministry Director General Amos Yaron, head of the ministry’s New York-based procurement division, Kuti Mor, Yossi Ben-Hanan, head of the department for security assistance and export, and Yehiel Horev, security officer for the ministry.


According to reports, the call is not part of Washington’s official solution to the deepening crisis between the two defense departments, but if they are not removed from their positions, the U.S. will refuse to participate in joint ventures.


However, the Defense Ministry said there is no truth to the report regarding U.S. demands to fire senior Defense Ministry officials.


"A constructive dialogue is currently being held with the American government," the ministry said in a statement. "During these discussions both sides have shown a clear intent to bring an end to the affair."


Started with Clinton administration 


Tensions between Washington and Jerusalem began several years ago, when former Prime Minister Ehud Barak signed a deal to supply a Falcon-model F-16 fighter aircraft to China, over the strenuous objections of then-President Bill Clinton.


Israel initially resisted American pressure to cancel the sales, but in practice failed to supply the aircraft.


Yaron, Horev and Ben Hamou then visited China last year in an attempt to defuse the crisis.


Current crisis


The current crisis stems from a recent upgrade of unmanned drones, developed for China by Israel Aircraft Industries.


Israel says it has merely supplied “support” for the drone system, as per the original contract of sale, but the Americans reject the claim.


Pentagon sources say they have been lied to, and that China sent spare parts to Israel to be upgraded, not merely maintained.


Understanding in August


Israeli sources said they hoped a memorandum of understanding, expected to be signed in August regarding bilateral coordination with regard to each country’s sales of military equipment, would signal the end of the crisis.


However, the U.S. wants to see that Israel has drawn definitive “conclusions” before opening a new chapter in relations between the two security establishments.


- Hanan Greenberg and Efrat Weiss contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 06.12.05, 09:35
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