Newsdesk August 19, 2005

China Fight Resolved

A months-long sometimes-raging dispute between the United States and Israel over Israeli security exports to China was settled Tuesday, with the U.S. Defense Department and the Israeli Defense Ministry issuing a joint statement.

“The U.S. Department of Defense and the Israeli Ministry of Defense have signed an understanding that is designed to remedy problems of the past that seriously affected the technology security relationship between their defense establishments and begins to restore confidence in the technology security area,” the statement declares. “In the coming months, additional steps will be taken to restore confidence fully.”

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz signed the statement.

The crisis in Israeli-American relations broke out about a year ago on the backdrop of American charges that Israel had withheld information pertaining to the refurbishment of Harpy drones that were sold to China in the past.

Israel has not apologized for the China affair, but was forced to agree that security relations between the countries be restored gradually, over a period of months. Furthermore, the American administration will continue to blacklist the Israeli Defense Ministry’s director general, Amos Yaron, who is viewed by the Pentagon as responsible for misreporting the deal with China. Yaron is slated to retire in the coming months.

Israel is expected to adhere to certain understandings between the Israeli and U.S. defense establishments, and will commit to transparency in its arms deals and report to America on sensitive issues. Over the coming months, Israel also will implement legislative amendments and organizational changes in the defense establishment, in order to institute tighter controls over the export of goods and technologies that can be used for military or civilian purposes.

Aipac Pair Plead Not Guilty

Two former American Israel Public Affairs Committee staffers pleaded not guilty to charges involving the passing of classified information. Steve Rosen, Aipac’s former policy director, and Keith Weissman, a former Iran specialist for the pro-Israel lobby, appeared Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., and waived their right to a speedy trial. Larry Franklin, a former Pentagon analyst accused of giving the two Aipac men classified documents, also waived that right. Judge T.S. Ellis III set a trial date for January 3, 2006.

Rosen and Weissman have signed a joint defense agreement to collaborate on their arguments against the charges, according to sources close to the defense. The agreement suggests that Rosen and Weissman will have similar defense strategies and will not implicate each other.

Both men were told to surrender their passports and were released without bail.

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Newsdesk August 19, 2005

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