Israeli MKs unite in effort to bar weapon sales to countries in violation of human rights

HANEGEV, Israel — Knesset members from both sides of the political divide have joined forces in proposing a bill that would prohibit arms exports to countries deemed in serious violation of human rights.

Identical draft laws proposed in the previous government by left-wing Meretz MKs have failed to win support of the cabinet, but this time Likud MK, and US-born rabbi Yehudah Glick have stepped into the fray, bringing with them another 16 members of the Knesset, helping raise the issue out of the partisan politics morass.

The draft law has been submitted by Glick, and Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Uri Ariel. Both Glick and Ariel emphasized the importance of taking into account moral obligations, together with the economic and political considerations.

UN reports reveal that Israel has, in the past, issued defense exports to countries in which grave human-rights violations had been taking place at the time; countries such as Chad, Rwanda, Congo, Kenya, Colombia, South Sudan and others.

According to the proposed bill, the Foreign Ministry would be obligated to supply the Defense Ministry with information about countries in which human rights violations are taking place, according to their severity, as per international law.

Col. Dubi Lavi, head of the Defense Export Controls Agency 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 Martin Banov