Associated Press, The United States has imposed a series of sanctions on the Israeli arms industry in recent months, Israeli officials and media reports said Sunday, escalating tensions between the two allies over Israeli military sales to China.
The Haaretz daily reported the United States has halted cooperation on several projects, frozen delivery of sensitive equipment, and is even refusing to answer telephone calls from Israeli defense officials.
Washington also has frozen Israel out of the development of Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-35, a next-generation warplane being developed with several foreign participants. It is demanding that Israel agree to a host of concessions, including U.S. supervision over some arms sales, as a condition for repairing the relationship, the report said.
The Israel Defense Ministry issued a statement saying it is “holding quiet and specific talks with the United States with the goal of resolving the misunderstanding that has developed.”
A senior Israeli defense official confirmed that sanctions were in place, and described the situation as a “serious crisis.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation.
U.S. officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
The dispute stems from the Israeli sale of unmanned drone aircraft technology to China. State-owned Israel Aircraft Industries sold Harpy drones to China in the early 1990s. Harpy parts were shipped to Israel last year for what American defense officials said was an upgrade.
Israel has denied the American contention, saying the Harpy units were undergoing routine maintenance. Israeli military officials have said work on the Harpy deal has been frozen.
The U.S. fears the Harpy technology could threaten Taiwan or endanger U.S. forces in case of war with China. In 2000, Washington torpedoed a US$2 billion (euro1.6 billion) Israeli sale of PHALCON reconnaissance planes to China. The botched deal caused ill will between Israel and China that was resolved only after Israel paid hundreds of millions of dollars in reparations.
According to Haaretz, this time the United States has suspended cooperation on development of an advanced imaging system for Israeli forces, frozen collaboration on Hunter 2 unmanned attack aircraft, and suspended the delivery of parts of night-vision equipment to the Israeli army.
The report said the United States is demanding details on 60 recent Israeli security deals with China. It also wants Israel to reevalauate its system for supervising arms deals, and wants to sign a joint understanding with Israel regulating future arms sales.
Israeli defense officials said Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz already has appointed a retired general, Herzl Bodinger, to negotiate a memorandum of understanding with the Americans.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the memo would force Israel to receive U.S. approval on arms exports to countries defined by the Americans as “sensitive.”
The officials described the memorandum as a “humiliating step,” but said Israel would have no choice but to sign the document.