State will continue to import weapons from Israel
THE Government will not impose trade sanctions on Israel despite deepening diplomatic tensions in the wake of the Gaza aid flotilla atrocity.
The Department of Defence has spent €13.9m on the purchase of equipment from Israel since 2005.
But despite warnings from Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin, it will be business as usual for departments involved in trade deals with Israel.
Defence Minister Tony Killeen last night confirmed there was no change in the Government's stance.
But he said the Government would be closely monitoring events in the days ahead.
Defence is one of a number of Government departments involved in trade discussions with Israeli companies.
Since 2005, Defence has spent about €13.9m on the purchase of equipment from Israel.
Following tender competitions, Israeli companies won orders for equipment ranging from small arms ammunition, to X-ray machines for explosive ordnance disposal duties, helmets for personal protection, an artillery fire control system, unmanned aerial drones and surveillance gear for armoured vehicles.
In each competition, the contract was awarded on the basis that the company concerned had submitted the best tender, according to the department.
Where contracts were worth in excess of €1m, the competitions had to be in accordance with EU procurement guidelines and advertised on the electronic bulletin board run by the European Defence Agency.
The competitions are open to any individual or country who are not subjected to arms embargos or restrictions.
The department said the bulletin board enabled wider advertising of defence force contracts to achieve better value for money for expenditure on defensive equipment.
Mr Killeen said a trade embargo on Israel would raise implications for foreign policy.
"In the absence of a general trade embargo of Israel, the Department of Defence cannot unilaterally preclude Israeli companies from participating in tender competitions," he said.