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Organizational Commitment: A Call for Transparent, Ethical Oversight of Defense Exports
We, the undersigned organizations, call on Israel to enact robust, transparent legislation to establish moral red lines on weapons exports, to end the Israel’s government’s approval of weapons export to governments engaged in the gross violation of human rights.
The state of Israel, founded on the vision of freedom, justice and peace found in the Hebrew prophets, finds itself today as one of the top ten weapons exporters in the world. Although government oversight on this industry exists, there is no legal limit set on weapons sales to countries engaged in gross human rights violations, in contrast to the United States and the European Union, where such laws do exist. Additionally, in Israel, as opposed to other democracies, there is no transparency regarding the identity of the clients of the weapons industry. Despite this lack of transparency, we know for a fact that Israeli weapons are sold to many countries that systematically violate human rights, including countries that have committed ethnic cleansing and genocide.
Therefore, we see an urgent need for an amendment to the security export law that creates a moral red line as a first condition for receiving an export license, as well as an effective and transparent mechanism for enforcing the law.
A. A moral red line
Every request to export Israeli weapons needs to receive the approval of DECA, the Defence Exports Control Agency, Defence Ministry’s unit for oversight on weapons exports, in order to ensure that the transaction does not negatively affect Israel’s security and diplomatic interests. Prior to this stage, there must be an evaluation of the potential client in order to ensure that it is not likely that Israeli weapons will be used to violate human rights. Failing this test must mean that a license is not issued, even if there may be economic, security or diplomatic interests that advocate for the sale to take place.
B. Effective Oversight
The moral criteria for receiving an export license should be established and applied by an independent committee that includes representatives from outside the military and the government, such as academics and experts in human rights.
Whenever there is a question regarding Israeli weapons in the hands of brutal regimes, the claim is that revealing any information will negatively effect Israel’s security and diplomatic interests. Israel must allow for a level of transparency similar to other democratic nations, who report on their weapons exports, and particularly, on embargoes that they establish, in a transparent manner.