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paineinthearse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-01-05 02:29 PM
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Israel arms sales to China, FBI investigation into alleged spy affair sour

World > Terrorism & Security
posted August 1, 2005 at 11:00 a.m.

US, Israel working to mend rifts

Israel arms sales to China, FBI investigation into alleged spy affair sour relations.

By Tom Regan |

(Please note: This is an update version of a piece that originally ran Friday, July 29.)

"Tough issues" between Israel and the US remain to be resolved, but talks to resolve them are "not stalemated" a State Department official said Friday. Reuters reports that Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said there was "good progress" in the talks over Israel's arms sales to China, but refused to say when the talks may be concluded. "I have talked to folks who are involved, who think this is going to be resolved, in the time-honored phrase, sooner rather than later. They don't think that this is something that is going to take forever," Mr. Di Rita told reporters in response to questions at the Pentagon ... "That was an assessment by people involved as of the last day or two ... There still is a general sense that they will probably get something done," he said. The situation became a crisis of sorts last week when it was reported that Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz cancelled a recent trip to Washington over new US demands that it be allowed to oversee Israeli arms exports. Newsday reported Thursday that the new US demands are part of growing crisis over Israeli arms sales to China, according to an Israeli defense official.

Israeli and US officials have been working on negotiations about the weapons shipments, which had originally led to the US imposing sanctions on Israel several months ago, including "halting cooperation on several sensitive projects and freezing delivery of some military equipment. The US opposes the Harpy parts sale on the grounds it would upgrade China's anti-radar aircraft." The US worries that the drones could be used against the US and its allies if there is ever an armed conflict over Taiwan. Mr. Mofaz was scheduled to come to Washington to work out the final details on an agreement that would have put new restrictions on Israeli arms sales to certain countries like China, but the trip was put on hold when the US also demanded a written apology signed by Mofaz , and that the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, pass new laws within 18 months that would tighten "oversight of military exports."

Ha'aretz, which broke the story of the new US demands last week, reported that Israel believed that tensions between the two countries were going to lessen after the Mofaz trip to Washington. But the new demands, according to Ha'aretz, are "an indirect way" way to reject the request by the Israeli defense minister to end the crisis and lift the sanctions, which "have the potential to do serious harm to Israel's defense industries and air force." The US is also apparently angry that media reports appear whenever the Israeli delegation for talks on the arms sale issue leaves for the US. The US sees the meetings as defense briefings, while Israeli media reports the meetings as talks to end the "crisis" over the Israel-China arms deals.

In an analysis for Ha'aretz Friday, Ze'ev Schiff, writes that the disagreement between the US and Israel is "a serious crisis that has spilled over into political and economic spheres," and signals a "crisis of confidence." Mr. Schiff writes that the important strategic dialogue between the two countries has "slowly evaporated over the past two years..." The American side is broadcasting that it has been burned by Israel several times, and this time it has decided to be firm. Because they feel affronted, they are not taking into account the political situation in Israel, and are trying to dictate to the Knesset, in an insulting manner, a timetable for its decisions. An agreement is meant to end a crisis, and not to force a friendly nation to agree to be punished in stages. Even a banana republic would not sign such an agreement.


Related: The Israeli news channel Arutz Sheva reported Friday that as "the crisis snowballs" the FBI's investigation is increasingly aimed towards Israel's US embassy.

The FBI is demanding that Naor Gilon, head of the embassy's political department, be interrogated in connection to the case of Pentagon Iran expert Lawrence Franklin, who was caught in an FBI sting operation passing on classified material relating to Israeli security.

Embassy officials usually have immunity and are not allowed to be investigated by foreign countries regarding issues related to their work. Israel has offered the FBI the possibility that Gilon would respond to questions in writing. The FBI request indicates that Israel is now suspected of being involved in the Franklin case, which until now was portrayed as involving only the AIPAC Israel lobby group.
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-01-05 03:15 PM
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1. Deleted message
Message removed by moderator. Click here to review the message board rules.
htuttle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-01-05 03:17 PM
Response to Original message
2. Why don't they just make Bolton ambassador to Israel?
If any post needed a 'tough guy'.....

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