Research report june 2016 – ENGLISH SUMMARY – Through arms sales and military cooperation with Israel, the Netherlands profit from Israeli knowledge that is obtained by the illegal occupation of Palestinian area’s and violations of human rights.
In this report, Stop the Wapenhandel (Stop the Arms Trade) has mapped out the military relations and the imports and exports of military products between the Netherlands and Israel, in the hope of generating a new impulse to the political discussion.
The Israeli weapons industry is mostly in the hands of the state, and the Israeli army is its primary customer. There are close ties between them, as there is constant contact from “the field” to the industry about the development and improvement of military products. This leads to the desirability of Israeli weapons on the international market, because they have the label “combat proven” or “battle tested.” Israel and its weapons industry profits from the knowledge and experience that is gained through the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza — an occupation and blockade that are tied with human rights abuses and violations of international law.
With the export of high value military and “security” products, the Israeli weapons industry reaps benefits from this knowledge and experience. Countries that buy products from the Israeli weapons industry or that work together with this industry, such as the Netherlands, thereby in fact benefit from the knowledge gained from the abuses of human rights and the violations of international law.
Besides stimulating the weapons industry through the purchase of Israeli ‘combat proven’ products, the Netherlands facilitates the occupation and the conflict in yet another manner. There is a substantial chance that parts of F-16s, Apache helicopters, Hellfire-missiles, and in the near future parts of the F-35, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), will be produced and developed in the Netherlands, and end up in Israel through the U.S., even though the Netherlands will never deliver these kinds of products directly to Israel. After the export of the produced weapons parts to the U.S., the Netherlands has no control anymore over the American exports.
In addition, there are the exports of the so-called dual-use products, products that have both a civilian and military application. Especially alarming are the delivery of parts of night goggles to the Israeli army, and the delivery of chemicals that can be used as materials for chemical weapons, especially considering that Israel is one of the few countries that has not yet ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention. Moreover, some analysts presume that Israel has a chemical weapons program. The Netherlands also delivers parts of night goggles, whereby the reports of the issued dual-use export permits mention that in some cases these parts are used for military use. This is in contradiction to the declared Dutch policy of delivering no military products to Israel.
The Israeli military is not only supported through the purchases by European countries, but also through the large sums of research funds to Israeli weapons producers. Israel can participate in lucrative research programs through the Association Agreement signed with European member states in 1995. In this manner, the Israeli military and security industry is stimulated by the European Union. Research for the development of ‘security systems’ is being supported from the European innovation subsidy program FP7. During the FP7 cycle, which ran from 2007 through 2013, Israeli institutions participated in at least 1500 projects. Israel thereby received 780 million euros in financing. One part of this sum ended up in the Israeli weapons industry.
After pressure from civil society organizations, the European Commission decided that projects in Horizon 2020 should be exclusively focused on civil applications. Despite that, it appears that there are still a lot of European innovation subsidies going to the weapons industry, partly because the boundaries between civil (‘security’), dual-use and military products are very vague. In other words, weapons producers like Elbit and ISLspace are being supported with European tax money, companies whose products play a big role in the occupation of the West Bank and the wars and blockade of Gaza.
Minister of Defense Hennis stated in a 2014 visit to Israel that the Netherlands wants to tighten its relations with Israel. It was in that context that the Corps of the Commando troops went to train in Israel in 2012 and 2014.
The attitude of the Netherlands and the EU with respect to the military relations with Israel is thus very double-sided and contradictory. On the one hand the Netherlands and the EU speak out against the Israeli occupation and violations of international law and human rights. Both the Netherlands government and the European Commission state that they do not work together with companies that are based or active in occupied territory. But on the other hand the military cooperation are tightened. There is exchange of knowledge, trade with the Israeli weapons industry is indeed permitted, and weapons material that is produced in Israel ends up in the Netherlands, and vice versa. Like former general (currently Israel’s minister of housing) Yoav Galant said; ‘foreign governments are hypocritical. On the one hand they criticize our actions, but then they come to us to learn how we do it.’