Why doesn’t the Foreign Ministry care whether Israeli weapons end up in the hands of serial human rights violators such as South Sudan?
Israel’s greatest champions pride themselves on supporting a flourishing country based on start-up ingenuity that respects democracy and human rights. But do those who call Israel the “start-up nation” and the “only democracy in the Middle East” know just how embroiled the Jewish state is in selling arms to serial human rights violators?
Israel’s shadowy relationship with tyrannical regimes the world over reared its head Sunday morning when the Foreign Ministry announced its objection to a new amendment to a law that would restrict sales of Israeli arms to countries involved in human rights violations.
The Law For Oversight of Defense Exports, passed in 2007, forces the Defense Ministry to consult with the Foreign Ministry prior to selling arms to a foreign country. According to the amendment — sponsored by Meretz’s Zehava Galon and Tamar Zandberg — the Foreign Ministry would have near-total veto power over weapons sales — with only the security cabinet maintaining the sole authority to override the ministry’s objection.
According to the ministry’s legal opinion, the monitoring of human rights violations by foreign security forces is “important and deserves continual attention by the Foreign Ministry and all the bodies participating in the oversight,” but it is not important enough to set in law.
So why the opposition from the Foreign Ministry? The goal of the original law was to allow the ministry to act as a check on arms dealers who likely prefer to turn a blind eye to the implications of the very deals they strike. At a time when Israel’s name isn’t exactly synonymous with the great defenders of human rights, one would expect its government to do the bear minimum — even if for the sake of outside appearance — to make a painstaking effort and ensure that Israeli weapons do not end up in the wrong hands.
It’s not only Israel’s current standing in the world that should affect such a decision — the state has and continues to supply weapons to some of the worst human rights violators imaginable. In a recent interview with Haaretz’s Ayelett Shani, Chilean-born Lily Traubman described her efforts to demand the disclosure of Israel’s security and foreign relations with the brutal regime of Augusto Pinochet, responsible for the kidnapping, murder and...Read More