Friday, June 17, 2005

Triangular Relations: US, China, & Israel

An 11 June article from the Jerusalem Post (article is no longer available from the JPost site but is available here) discusses the Israel-US friction over Israeli arms sales to China and indicates a solution has been found:
Israel has agreed to a de facto US veto on some defense sales by Israel.
Lest one misunderestimate the significance of this agreement:
Reporting on Israeli sales of arms to Washington represented the first time Israel would do so to a foreign power.
If true, this will go a long way towards healing the fissures that have formed in the last few months. An article from Voice of America, however, indicates that this issue hasn't been laid to rest just yet.
Israel says its dispute with the United States over its sales of military technology China will soon be worked out... After several days of silence on the issue, Israeli government officials told journalists that Israel is, as one put it, "attentive to American concerns."
As this matter has been underreported in the American news media from the start, allow me to recap how the three powers got to this point. A Power and Interest News Report (PINR)report titled "Return of the Red Card" does a great job of covering the history of this issue as of mid-May including the sale by Israel of Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) to China, which America convinced Israel to back out of at the last minute and accusations that Israel shared various American-developed defense technology and know-how with China.
This particular spat began when some Chinese-owned Harpy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were spotted in Israel receiving repairs and/or upgrades. Israel had sold the Harpys to China a decade ago, but had not informed America. The Chinese Harpys were spotted in an exercise last year by American intelligence.
In retaliation for such Israeli sales to China and citing a lack of trust, the United States cut Israel out of the group of countries cooperating to develop the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The developing countries are also to be the first to receive JSFs when it comes into service around 2008.
Shortly after that news broke, Israel and America worked out a compromise. From the PINR report:
Israel, however, eventually bowed to American dictates. After weeks of wrangling, pressure tactics and behind the scene negotiations, the issue was resolved. While China was keen to upgrade the Harpy assault drone, the U.S. demanded Israel "confiscate" it. Israel settled for a compromise and, according to a senior Chinese official, returned the drone without upgrading.
Update:It appears the problem has been worked out.