U.S. slaps sanctions on Israeli government

The George W. Bush administration has imposed sanctions on Israel following a dispute over that country’s sale of unmanned drone airplanes to China. The U.S. has halted several development projects and has frozen delivery of night-vision equipment, according to The Hindu.com.

The Internet version of the paper said a U.S. official at our embassy in Tel Aviv stated he was aware of such reports but would not comment. The information about sanctions, he said, came from the Israeli government and not the U.S.

These sanctions have been in effect for about three months and were approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, according to the paper.

While the U.S. is basically angry at the behavior of Israeli bureaucrats whose tenure reaches back to the government of Ehud Barak in 2000, the conflict is said to threaten relations between the U.S. and Israel. A report in Ha’aretz, an Israeli newspaper, said: “Following the crisis, one can sense the repulsion toward Israel among lower and middle-ranking officials in Washington. More and more of them are saying that it is not worth doing business with Israel.”

The article claims the U.S. believes Israeli officials lied about the export of Harpy Killer drones to China. The Israeli officials said Israel simply refurbished old drones that were exported with U.S. consent, while American officials argued the drones had been upgraded with new technology, which was shared with Israel.

The administration fears China is becoming better and better armed and may try to settle old scores—territorial and political arguments—by the threat or use of force.

China has repeatedly threatened to attack Taiwan if the island declares independence and South Korea and Japan are worried about China equating its military power to its size.

America also wants the European Union to continue its arms embargo on China. That was put in place after the Chinese government crushed pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989. There has been some recent talk by EU members about lifting the Chinese arms embargo.

From the July 13-19, 2005, issue

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