Israeli lawmakers back bill to restrict sale of arms to 'countries violating human rights'

Published June 21st, 2016 - 11:00 GMT
The IWI Tavor assault rifle, widely exported worldwide, on display at an arms fair. (IWI)
The IWI Tavor assault rifle, widely exported worldwide, on display at an arms fair. (IWI)

In a rare combination of forces from opposed political factions in Israel's Knesset, MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) and MK Yehuda Glick (Likud) have proposed a bill to restrict defense exports in cases of countries whose armed forces have committed severe infringements of human rights.

In the preamble to the bill, its promoters note that up to the end of 2013 the Ministry of Defense had awarded some 400,000 export licenses and defense product marketing licenses relating to 130 countries and other entities. "Unfortunately, there are not 130 democratic countries in the world," the bill states, "From the UN Register of Conventional Arms it emerges that over the years exports of Israeli arms have taken place to countries in which severe infringements of human rights were being perpetrated at the time."

"Severe infringements" are defined as including torture, cruel, inhuman and humiliating treatment and punishments, long periods of detention without trial, and holding people in secret prisons.

Under the provisions of the bill, the list of countries to which Israel exports arms would be accessible to the public, and a database would be set up for this purpose. The Ministry of Defense currently refuses to disclose the names of countries to which it permits arms exports.

Col. (res.) Dubi Lavi, head of the Defense Export Controls Agency (DECA) in the Ministry of Defense, said of the proposal, "Under existing law, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must be a partner in these processes, and if it objects to the award of an export license for defense products on the grounds of human rights breaches, no license will be given. In any case in which international sanctions are imposed by the United Nations on any country, Israel adopts them."

By Yuval Azulai



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