Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is preventing the sale of Israeli military
platforms to Turkey, which the Defense Ministry is trying to advance as part of
a bid to repair ties between Jerusalem and Ankara, defense officials said on
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The officials confirmed a report first aired on Channel 2 that
Lieberman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were at odds over whether Israel
should renew defense exports to Turkey, which largely came to a standstill after
ties between the countries deteriorated following Operation Cast Lead in the
Gaza Strip in 2009.
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In 2006, in an effort to repair ties with the United
States over alleged sales to China, the Defense Ministry established a new
department called the Export Licensing Authority, which is required to approve
all sales overseas. The authority – known by its Hebrew acronym API – operates
in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry, with which it consults on sensitive
Until 2009, Turkey was one of Israel’s largest defense
customers and has purchased in the past Israeli-made unmanned aerial vehicles,
Israeli-upgraded tanks, and has had Israel modernize its aging fleet of F-4
Phantom fighter jets. Israel has also sold Turkey long-range targeting pods and
additional advanced military systems.
“There is a fundamental
disagreement over whether Israel should sell military platforms to Turkey or
not,” one Israeli official said Monday.
The official said that the
primary reason behind Barak’s support is the need to repair ties with Turkey,
which has helped Israel in preventing the flotilla of ships – currently stuck in
Greece – from sailing to the Gaza Strip.
Turkey is believed to be
interested in a wide-range of Israeli military systems, including
electronic-warfare systems, the Spike anti-tank missile manufactured by Rafael
Advanced Defense Systems and the Barak 8 naval air-defense missile manufactured
by Israel Aerospace Industries. In the past, Israel has also held talks with
Turkey about the possible sale of satellites and the Arrow missile defense