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Tags: israel | ukraine | russia

Why Israel Had to Say No to US Request to Give Ukraine Missiles

a man walking past a display of missiles

A man walks past Spike anti-tank missiles at the Rafael stand during the 15th Defense Equipment and services Exhibition HEMUS-Defense, Anti-terrorism and Security in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, on June 1. (AFP via Getty Images)

Micah Halpern By Friday, 03 June 2022 12:13 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

The United States pressured Israel to deliver Spike anti-tank rocket systems to Ukraine.

Israel has said no!

It seems that Israel and the United States have very different perspectives on how to help Ukraine.

The U.S. just agreed to transfer M142 Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, otherwise known as HIMARS, as part of their latest aid package to Ukraine, at a cost of a whopping $700 million. HIMARS, which uses satellite targeting systems, are the most advanced missile system the United States owns.

This $700 million brings the total US aid package to Ukraine to $5.3 billion.

The United States attached some strings to this gift to Ukraine. They secured a promise from Zelensky that the system will not attack within Russia. And the rocket system is being outfitted with the short 45-mile range missiles, instead of the preferred, longer, 186-mile range missiles.

The pressure on Israel to join the United States in this gift-giving venture to Ukraine came from the U.S. Undersecretary for Defense Policy Colin Kahl.

Kahl put forth the U.S. request to Amir Eshel, director general of Israel’s Defense Ministry while Eshel was on a visit to Washington, D.C. The nature of the request in and of itself was strange given that Israel’s Minister of Defense Benny Gantz, also met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in the White House — and neither of these top level officials made the request of Israel.

A joint request from Austin and Sullivan would have been more serious than this underling-to-underling request.

It’s not as if the subject of aiding Ukraine was avoided or taboo. Austin, Sullivan and Gantz spoke about helping Ukraine. And on the very day that the Israeli defense minister arrived in D.C., Israel delivered 2,000 helmets and 500 protective vests to Kyiv.

Israel needs to be circumspect in this conflict.

Israel still needs Russia. They fear that if Russian soldiers were to be killed by Israeli weapons, it would create a backlash in Russian-controlled Syria.

This week alone the sophisticated Russian S-300 missiles, which are operated by Russian forces in Syria, shot at Israeli fighter jets over Syria.

This does not portend well for Russian/Israeli relations. Israel needs to fly safely over Syria to attack terrorists and to intercept weapon transfers coming from Iran.

Israel explained to the United States that they will help Ukraine — but not in the way the United States wants to help.

Israel has provided Ukraine and will continue to provide Ukraine with non-life-threatening defensive aid — especially in the form of tons upon tons of food and medicine. And mobile hospitals that Israel has sent over, set up, staffed and operated on the ground in Ukraine.

Israel is walking a thin tightrope, supporting Ukraine and not isolating Russia.

Israel’s safety is dependent on making certain that they can protect themselves from threats coming out of Syria.

Israel cannot risk ruining their relationship with Russia.

And that is one of the prime reasons Israeli Prime Minster Bennett has accepted the role of moderator and has made frequent calls to both Zelenskyy and Putin and embarked on frequent trips to Moscow to speak face-to-face with the Russian leader delivering messages back and forth.

In addition to the Spike missiles, included in the U.S. package to Ukraine, are counter-artillery radars, Javelin anti-armor missiles, 155-millimeter howitzer artillery rounds and Mi-17 helicopters.

Israel manufactures the Spike missiles for the United States and has improved upon the original design. And there is an arms agreement between the United States and Israel stipulating that Israel must agree before they are transferred to a third party.

So, after Israel’s NO to Kahl, the undersecretary attempted and end around. He asked permission for Germany to deliver the Spike to Ukraine. Again, Israel said NO. In Germany, the Spike is being made with Israeli technology for Israel. And by contract, Israel has the power to reject the transfer of these weapons.

In conflict, especially the conflict being waged by Russia and Ukraine, it is not unheard of for weapons to cross into the hands of other parties. Israel does not want its weapons technology to fall into the hands of Russia and from Russia into the hands of Russia’s friends and proxies — Israel’s enemies.

It is too easy to reverse engineer technology.

Once you understand a weapon it becomes much easier to develop ways of neutralizing its effect on the battlefield. This simple request from the United States to Israel had major, long-term, long-range, ramifications.

Israel had to say no.

Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern," a weekly TV program, and "My Chopp," a daily radio spot. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. Read Micah Halpern's Reports — More Here.

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MicahHalpern
The United States pressured Israel to deliver Spike anti-tank rocket systems to Ukraine.Israel has said no!It seems that Israel and the United States have very different perspectives on how to help Ukraine.The U.S. just agreed to transfer M142 Mobility Artillery Rocket...
israel, ukraine, russia
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2022-13-03
Friday, 03 June 2022 12:13 PM
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