Israel rejects cluster bomb ban

Israel says it did not take part in negotiations that led to the adoption of treaty since it has to deal with well-known security threats.

Cluster bomb 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Cluster bomb 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Israel was one of a number of countries, including the US, Russia, China, India and Pakistan, that did not take part in negotiations that led to the adoption of a treaty banning the use of cluster bombs on Friday. The treaty was formally adopted by 111 nations in Ireland. Talks chairman Daithi O'Ceallaigh closed the 12-day negotiations in Dublin after diplomats from scores of nations delivered speeches embracing the landmark accord. The treaty requires signatories not to use cluster bombs, to destroy existing stockpiles within eight years and to fund programs that clear old battlefields of cluster-bomb duds. Supporting nations plan to sign the treaty in the Norwegian capital of Oslo in December, and it will come into force in mid-2009. Many speakers appealed to cluster bomb-making nations that boycotted the Dublin talks - particularly the US - to accept its conclusions. Foreign Ministry spokesman Aryeh Mekel said that Israel's position - a position supported by the other countries who did not take part in the negotiations - was that a comprehensive ban on the use of cluster bombs in all situations was "exaggerated." "We don't think such an absolute ban is justified, and a balance between military needs and taking into account humanitarian considerations needs to be found," Mekel said. Mekel said that the treaty signed in Ireland was one of two tracks dealing with the cluster bomb issue. The other track, with which he said Israel was actively involved, began in the UN in January not with the aim of a total ban, but rather finding ways to balance the use of the bombs for specific military purposes with a need to take into account humanitarian needs. After the Second Lebanon War, Israel was widely criticized for its use of cluster bombs, and a number of Lebanese have reportedly been killed from cluster-bomb duds since the war. In December 2007, Judge Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Avihai Mandelblit decided not to take any legal measures against commanders who deviated from the order regarding the use of cluster bombs, despite several cases during the war when the bombs were not used within the guidelines set by the General Staff. Mandelblit's announcement came close to a year-and-a-half after an investigation - headed by OC IDF National Defense College Maj.-Gen. Gershon Hacohen - was launched into the military's controversial use of cluster bombs during the 2006 war. Mandelblit accepted Hacohen's conclusions that, in all cases, cluster bombs were used in accordance with international law, though not necessarily the guidelines of the General Staff. A previous probe, conducted by Brig.-Gen. Michel Ben-Baruch from the IDF's Ground Forces Command, found that the use of cluster bombs during the war did not match the orders regulated by then-chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Dan Halutz.