Europeans embargo sale of defense supplies to Israel

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at
Tue Apr 9 06:38:05 MDT 2002

The report from the Israeli press is conformed by German media as well. See
Is this only a temporarily incident or a permanent shift of policies?

>From today's Ha'aretz:

Europeans embargo sale of defense supplies to Israel

Germany, France and England are imposing an embargo on sales of certain
defense equipment to Israel, a senior defense official here said yesterday.
Reports from Israeli missions in Europe say that nearly all western European
countries have delayed or are dragging their feet providing export approval
to parts for security purposes. The steps were taken without any formal
decision by the European Union.

As a result of the delays, parts for the Merkava tank engine and gear box
have been delayed in Germany for more than three months. The parts are for
both current generation Merkava V-IIIs and for the next generation of the
tank, the V-IV, which goes into production in early 2003.

German authorities are not confirming there is an embargo on the parts.
Defense Ministry Director-General Amos Yaron talked it over with his
counterpart at the German Defense Ministry and with German Foreign Minister
Joschke Fischer. Both said they would look into the matter.

Defense Ministry sources said the steps against Israel were taken in the
wake of international reports that Merkava tanks are being used in the
hostilities against the Palestinians. As a result, Green organizations that
support the German government coalition applied heavy pressure on the Social
Democrats in Germany to cease all defense sales to Israel. The Greens object
to any German involvement where there is violence, and oppose any military
aid to those places where violence takes place.

The cooperation between Germany and Israel on the Merkava began in the
beginning of the 1980s with technology know-how transfers regarding the
power train and gears of the tank. The know-how was given to the Ashot plant
in Ashkelon, a subsidiary of Israel Military Industries. The cooperation
widened in recent years when a 1,500 horsepower engine made by Germany's MTU
corporation was chosen for the V-IV. The company built the engines for the
three new German-made submarines currently in the Israeli navy.

The experience with MTU was widened to include American involvement, with
General Dynamics, manufacturers of the Abrams tank, which is equipped with
an MTU engine. Because of the three-way venture, Israel is able to use
American military grant funds to make purchases from Germany.

According to Yaron, he is in touch with the German government on the issue,
and the delays should be regarded as "temporary."

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