Sr. Official: Israel, US still disagree over sale of F16’s to Croatia

Netanyahu raised issue with Pompeo in Brasilia; also met Orban and discussed contentious Holocaust museum in Budapest.

January 2, 2019 19:03
2 minute read.
F-16 fighter jets

US-made F-16 fighter jets in action.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Israel and the US have not yet reached an agreement regarding the sale of 12 F-16 C/D Barak fighter jets to Croatia, a deal which is worth more than half a billion dollars, with Croatia demanding a decision be made by Friday.

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brasilia on Tuesday, Israel got “almost everything it asked” in the meeting, a senior diplomatic official told reporters on Wednesday on Netanyahu’s plane  back to Israel after a five-day visit to Brazil.

“Israel had eight requests, and seven of them were answered,” the official said. “The only issue that remains for discussion is the jet sale to Croatia.”

The US is demanding that the F-16’s – planes they sold to Israel decades ago and that Israel has since upgraded – be stripped of the Israeli technology added to them before being sold. The official said that the issue is “stuck deep in bureaucracy.”

The Total Croatia  News website reported on Wednesday that it is expected that Croatia will cancel its decision to buy the planes if the Israeli upgrades are not included.

The Axios website reported that Netanyahu has been personally involved in trying to resolve the issue, raising it with former secretary of defense James Mattis, who rejected his request to soften the US’s conditions for the deal.

Last month, Channel 10 reported that Washington was miffed that Israel added advanced Israeli-made electronic systems to the planes, giving Jerusalem an edge over US planes in the bidding for the lucrative tender.

In another diplomatic matter, which was raised during meetings on the sidelines of the inauguration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday, the senior diplomatic official said that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told Netanyahu that Hungary is putting forward a new plan for the Holocaust museum to be built in Budapest.

Netanyahu, according to the official, said that the historical content needs to be approved by the relevant bodies who deal with the study of the Holocaust, such as Yad Vashem and the Holocaust Museum in Washington.

Last month, Orban sent a delegation to Israel to discuss the contentious museum, which has been named the “House of Fates.”

The museum is being built by the Hungarian government at a cost of over 28 million euro. The main curator of the museum, Maria Schmidt, is a controversial historian who has equated Nazism with communism, something widely viewed as a form of Holocaust distortion.

Israel has made it clear to Hungary that it will support the museum only if it meets objective historical standards set by Yad Vashem and similar institutions.

Yad Vashem has publicly criticized the museum, saying that it ignores anti-Jewish laws passed by the Hungarian government in 1938, the deaths of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews in forced labor imposed by the government, and the participation of Hungarian authorities in the deportation of Jews to Auschwitz.

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