European opposition is one of the obstacles to Israel’s participation in the project to develop the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), the future US figher plane, which will also be used by NATO and Israel.
A senior Washington source told “Globes” that European Union countries, some of whom will play a major role in financing the project, oppose Israel’s participation, for both business and political reasons.
The main reason is Europe fears that the technological capabilities of Israeli companies are greater than those of its own.
”European opposition may also stem from political motives, based on attitudes toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the source said. The Europeans say that Israel should not be given help in obtaining another offensive weapon, after F16s were used against the Palestinians.
The European countries’ influence concerning participation by Israel and other countries in the project is due to the Europeans’ participation in the early stages, and their commitment to large-scale investments. In exchange, the European countries will be allowed to help plan the fighter according to their specifications, and European defense industries will help develop and manufacture the plane.
Israel’s participation in the project will be one of the key issues discussed by US and Israeli delegations in their biannual bilateral strategic talks on Wednesday in Washington. Ministry of Defense director general Amos Yaron and US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz will head the respective delegations.
Israel’s request to participate in the project is liable to constitute a bone of contention in the talks between Yaron and Wolfowitz, because of lobbying by Israel to be included in the R&D for the world’s most advanced fighter plane.
The US may condition Israel’s participation in the project on restraint in the event of an Iraqi attack on Israel, once the US offensive begins.
Published by Globes [online] - www.globes.co.il - on November 10, 2002