[QODLink]
Archive
Israel-China arms deal angers US
Israeli arms deals with China have provoked tensions between Israel and the United States, the head of Israel's parliamentary defence committee has admitted.
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2004 19:54 GMT
Earlier Israel was stopped from selling its Phalcon AWACS
Israeli arms deals with China have provoked tensions between Israel and the United States, the head of Israel's parliamentary defence committee has admitted.

His comments on Thursday followed reports that the US is demanding the dismissal of Israeli defence ministry director general Amos Yaron over the controversial deal.

"There are tensions, which are hidden from the public, which have appeared over the last one or two years concerning Israeli weapons sales, particularly to China," Yuval Steinitz told Israeli radio.

US officials are furious at Israel for taking back a "sensitive weapons system" sold to China in the 1990s for upgrading, Israel’s Channel Two television reported, although it did not identify the weapon.

Washington had permitted Israel to take the system back from China for repair, but had not authorised it to be upgraded, according to the report.

Israeli denials

Israel's ambassador to Washington, Danny Ayalon, denied on Thursday that the United States had sought the dismissal of Yaron, saying "no demand of that nature was made".

"We must take account of US interests but a demand for the dismissal of a person in charge such as Amos Yaron ... would be unacceptable"

Yuval Steinitz,
Chairman of Israel's defence committee

"Questions were raised recently, but they are being examined in a good atmosphere," he said.

Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz also denied the report, while accepting that a dossier on Israeli weapons sales to China was "in the process of clarification".

The issue has become very sensitive after Israel in July 2000 cancelled a contract to sell to China a Russian Ilyushin-76 plane equipped with its own Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS).

Past attempts

In March 2001, Israel agreed to pay China $350 million to compensate for the cancelled sale.

China had forked out a down payment of $200 million on a first plane, valued at $250 million, and had signed a contract which foresaw the purchase of four similar aircraft.

The United States based its demand on concerns that advanced US defence technology contained in Israeli equipment could be used against China's foe Taiwan.

"We must take account of US interests but a demand for the dismissal of a person in charge such as Amos Yaron ... would be unacceptable," Steinitz said. 

A source close to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told AFP that "the whole thing has been a misunderstanding".

Spying row

The row risks adding to an atmosphere of suspicion that has gripped relations with the Pentagon in recent months.

Sharon has previously said that
Israel does not spy on the US

Sharon was forced in September to insist that Israel was not spying on the United States following allegations that a Pentagon official leaked intelligence to a pro-Israel lobby.

US officials alleged that Pentagon aide Larry Franklin passed secrets to Israel using the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as the conduit.

Franklin is an Iran specialist in the office of Undersecretary of Defence for Policy Douglas Feith, the third most senior civilian official at the Pentagon.

Israel pledged not to spy on Washington after the hugely embarrassing arrest of Jonathan Pollard, an intelligence analyst for the US navy, who passed on thousands of secret documents.

Pollard was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1987.

US intelligence agencies said in 1992 that Israel had carried out non-authorised transfers of US technologies to China, particularly regarding the Patriot anti-missile system.

These accusations were denied by Israel.

Source:
AFP
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.