The diplomatic crisis with Ankara intensified on Thursday when the Defense
Ministry decided not to renew an export license for Elbit Systems and Israel
Aerospace Industries to sell advanced intelligence systems to the Turkish Air
Defense officials said Israel was working to improve ties with
Ankara but that the ministry was “responsible for every product that receives an
export license” and that it could not currently permit the delivery of the
intelligence- gathering systems to Turkey.
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“This has to do strictly with
this system and should not impact the overall ties between the countries,” an
The $140 million deal, signed in 2009, was for the sale of the advanced infrared Lorop camera and associated equipment.
Developed by Elbit subsidiary El-Op, the camera is installed in a pod which can
be carried on combat aircraft. The systems were supposed to be delivered to
Turkey in the coming months.
Both IAI and Elbit are in talks with Defense
Ministry director- general Udi Shani about the expected economic implications
and the possibility that they will be exposed to Turkish lawsuits for reneging
on the contract.
Elbit revealed the Defense Ministry decision in a
statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, saying that the company was in talks
with Shani about receiving compensation for the refusal to renew the export
“At the present time, there is not an estimate of the amount of
the damages that may result from the nonrenewal of the export
authorizations. Such damages may have a material impact on the company’s
financial results,” Elbit said.
Israel’s ties with Turkey hit rock-bottom
earlier this year, when Ankara expelled the Israeli ambassador after the United
Nations published its report on the 2010 flotilla incident. The report justified
Israel’s sea blockade over the Gaza Strip. Since the flotilla, diplomatic and
military ties have been at a bare minimum.
In response to Elbit’s
statement, the Defense Ministry stated: “The Defense Ministry is holding regular
discussions with all of the relevant authorities and decisions are made on a
professional basis and in line with security and diplomatic considerations.”