Israel Divided Over Military Sales To Georgia
JERUSALEM [MENL] -- Israel has been divided over whether to continue weapons
sales to Georgia.
Officials said the debate pits the Defense Ministry against the Foreign
Ministry. They said the Foreign Ministry has advocated a suspension of all
weapons sales and support services to Georgia while the Defense Ministry
sought to continue exports.
"The question is whether there should be a temporary suspension of arms
exports to Georgia during the war with Russia," an official said.
Israel has acknowledged the sale of unmanned aerial vehicles and what
officials termed defensive systems to Georgia. But industry sources said
Israeli defense firms have also sold rockets as well as night-vision systems
On Aug. 10, the Israeli Defense Ministry, which has overseen an
estimated $200 million in military exports to Georgia, convened senior
staffers to review the Foreign Ministry recommendation. Officials said the
ministry decided to continue to approve exports for non-lethal systems for
military and security applications in Georgia.
"The Defense Ministry has been conducting a very wise policy," Amos
Gilad, director of the Defense Ministry's political-military bureau, said.
"It has taken all factors into account. Defensive systems have been sent,
and they have not upset the strategic balance."
Moscow has been protesting Israeli arms sales to Georgia. Russia has
asserted that Israeli trainers were advising the Georgian military on how to
shoot down Russian combat aircraft and disable main battle tanks.
In December 2007, Israel decided to end the sale of offensive military
systems to Georgia, but did not cancel any contracts. Officials said Israel
came under pressure from Russia, who warned that such sales would be deemed
a hostile act. France and the United States have been leading arms exporters