Arms trade and military cooperation between the EU and Israel – time for a change

‘Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more’. (Is 2:4; Mic 4:3)

This picture shows a group of Quakers holding a vigil at Eurosatory (2010) the biennial arms fair held on the outskirts of Paris. Quakers have had a presence there, protesting against the arms trade for many years

Quakers at the gates of Eurosatory 2010 - photo supplied by EMES

Quakers are known as one of the historic peace churches and therefore well-known for their pacifist stance; Quakers could be found among those who pioneered the struggle for the right to conscientious objection to military service; and Quakers can be found in silent vigil at the arms fairs that deal in death for profit.

So it does not come as a surprise that QCEA’s programme of work relating to the EU’s role in the Palestine/Israel conflict has as one of its focus areas the issue of arms trading and security cooperation between the EU, the EU Member States and Israel. We have published one paper on the Arms Trade between the EU and Israel one on Security Co-operation between the EU and Israel.

Today, we are pleased to announce the launch of a new website under the title Arms trade and military co-ooperation between Europe and Israel. This website gives information about arms trade and military relations between Europe and Israel. It seeks to inform readers about the nature and extent of these relations and about arms trade regulations. The website is work in progress and people are invited to contribute their information on research results, campaigns and policy developments concerning military relations between Europe and Israel. As an important economic partner of Israel, Europe could use its position to promote a peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There is no military solution to this conflict.

As important exporters of arms to Israel the EU Member States must consider their complicity in this long conflict. If we want to prevent nation lifting sword against nation, then a start would be not to give one or other nation the sword.

The EU is a major funder of security research; some of this research includes Israeli military corporations (both publicly and privately owned). If we don’t want nations to learn war anymore then a start would be not to teach it to them.

But while arms exports to Israel bring of course significant economic advantage to the companies involved, the arms and security cooperation between the EU and Israel is as much about the EU Member States and the EU based arms industry learning and getting access to the latest technology. Complicity is not just a result of not understanding the dangers in profiting from a bloody conflict that has gone on for far too long. Rather, it is a result of wanting to have access to the latest in high-tech kit which Israeli producers are rather good at – unmanned aerial vehicles – armed and capable of killing by remote control – being a case in point.

Against that backdrop, QCEA supports the specific call for “a comprehensive military embargo on Israel …. It would form a crucial step towards ending Israel’s unlawful and criminal use of force against the Palestinian people and other peoples and states in the region, and it constitutes an effective, non-violent measure to pressure Israel to comply with its obligations under international law” issued on 9 July 2011 by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC).

The call has already been endorsed by 4 Nobel Prize winners. We join them in calling upon the EU to put in place specific measures to stop all military and security co-operation until there is a comprehensive and sustainable peace agreement which allows all the people in the region to exist in peace and security.

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About Martina Weitsch

Martina worked for Quaker Council for European Affairs as one of two Joint Representatives from 2002 to October 2012. Her main areas of work were the EU role in Palestine/Israel, EU peacebuilding, conflict prevention and crisis management, EU finances, democratic accountability and relations with the European Investment Bank.

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