Washington vs. Israel’s Defense Industry

This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)

By Arie Egozi

If this is to be Obama’s administration’s final chord against Israel, then it is a very unpleasant one, or better yet – one that’s damaging in a way that’s hard to recover from.

In the debate over boosting the US military aid to Israel in the upcoming decade there is one clause that if Israel won’t be able to change, would be a hard blow to the Israeli defense industries.

The US is now demanding that Israel spends all of the sum of the aid on US acquisition. Meaning that every dollar included in the military aid will return to the US. In other words – every dollar is supposedly arriving in Israel, but is to return to the US for purchasing US made systems.

Up until now the US has allowed Israel to change about 26% of the sum to Shekels so that the IDF could purchase Israeli made systems. The White House wants to put an end to that.

The US doesn’t like the Israeli defense industries’ accomplishments. Here they develop better and faster.

In 1987 the development project for IAI’s Lavi fighter jet was halted due to pressure by Washington. the US realized that IAI managed to developed a state-of-the-art fighter and it made sure the project is terminated.

The pentagon has senior officers who have been trying for years to cancel the possibility of those hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid being converted to Shekels. So far they had no luck, but now it seems there is a chance that they’d succeed.

If this happens, it will be a hard blow for Israel’s defense industries who are already dealing with growing competition. Countries who don’t need Israeli systems – most being proven in battle – purchase lesser systems in other countries, which affects the Israeli companies, who are being restricted in export as it is by Israel’s defense ministry, sometimes due to political considerations that don’t always make sense.

This American attempting to cancel the clause that allows the conversion to Shekels shows once again how detached president Obama is. Israel isn’t just some country whose industries produce top weapon systems. Israel is a country with an impressive defense industry. Talk to US officers and privately they’ll tell you that in many cases, Israeli systems surpass the American ones.

Israel is also the US last stronghold in the area. In the midst of a war against Islamic terrorism, Washington is trying to hurt industries who are creating in many cases defense lines against such terror attacks.