Israel Will Not Sign On to US Regulation of Israeli Drone Exports
October 23rd, 2016
Photo Credit: Bill Abbott
Israel is refusing to sign a document on drone usage which is being circulated by the US State Department, with guidelines on the use and export of armed drones, Haaretz reported Sunday. The one-page document covers international legal standards, oversight of exports, and transparency.
So far, the documents has been signed by more than 40 governments, including Austria, Germany and Italy, but Israel appears to be a stubborn holdout.
The State Department unveiled back in March of 2015 its policy permitting US companies to export military and commercial drones, including armed systems like the Predator and Reaper to US allies. According to a Defense News report last August, the State Department is now asking countries to sign onto a set of international norms for the sale and use of armed unmanned systems, adding that top agency officials held meetings with delegates from several countries at the Arms Trade Treaty conference in Geneva on the subject.
According to DN, the document offers five key principles of international norms, including applying International law and human rights when using the armed drones; following existing arms control laws in selling armed drone systems; considering the buyer country’s history on “adherence to international obligations and commitments”; following “appropriate transparency measures”; and ensuring that the sold unmanned system’s capabilities “are transferred and used responsibly by all States.”
Sources in Israel’s defense industry have told Ha’aretz they think the American document could limit their export business, and, in fact, constitutes yet another American attempt to damage Israeli exports. They cite another US move in admitting India to the multilateral Missile Technology Control Regime, this removing barriers to the sale of American drones to India. Shortly thereafter, India went shopping for the US made Predador drone over its Israeli competitors. Ha’aretz reported earlier about a lawsuit by an American company, General Atomics, trying to block Israel from leasing the Heron TP drone to Germany. Slowly but surely, these and other American companies have been encroaching on a field where in the past Israeli products ruled.
A senior Israeli Air Force official told Ha’aretz that the one advantage the Israeli drones still possess is the promise to potential buyers to train with Israel’s drone squadron, because the Israel Air Force is considered the world’s expert in the use of drones.