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September 2, 2016 3:55 pm

Former Top Israeli Security Official Says Obama Administration’s Push to Set International Drone Strike Guidelines Threatens Global Anti-Terrorism Efforts

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A Heron 1 UAV built by Israel Aerospace Industries. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A Heron 1 UAV built by Israel Aerospace Industries. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A new Obama administration initiative to establish international guidelines for drone strikes poses a danger to global anti-terrorism efforts, a former top Israeli security official told Defense News on Thursday.

“If the modern Western world wants to continue to fight terrorism in the future, this capability is essential,” Major General Yaakov Amidror, who served as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser from 2011 to 2013, was quoted as saying by Defense News. “From a professional point of view, it’s important to understand there is no substitute for this capability.”

According to Defense News, Israeli officials and experts view the US plan as “diplomatically dubious, practically unenforceable and potentially crippling to a critical sector of Israel’s defense industrial base.”

Amidror added that there would be “minimal” benefits to setting a common set of drone strike guidelines without the involvement of China, Iran and Russia.

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The goal of the US initiative, being led by the State Department, is to “bring nations that export armed unmanned systems under the same guidelines that US firms have operated under since February 2015,” the Defense News report said.

The report cited Israeli experts as warning that, without Iranian participation in the guidelines, terrorist groups like Hezbollah would continue receiving drone strike systems.

Also, the experts said, Israeli and Western manufacturers of such systems would face a competitive disadvantage if China and Russia did not adhere to the guidelines.

“There’s no vacuum in the field of military exports in general and of armed drones in particular,” Tal Inbar, head of UAV and Space Programs at Israel’s Fisher Institute for Strategic Air and Space Studies, was quoted as saying. “The limitations the US has imposed on itself are what led to the rise of Chinese strike UAVs in the world.”

Furthermore, Inbar noted, “This seems to be a futile effort given the fact that the horses have already left the stable. Today, almost every country that produces its own UAVs has tried to add some kind of offensive weaponry, either based on real need or for prestige.”

He continued: “And let’s not forget that the US is the number one country that produces and uses these types of drones… I wonder why the Obama administration is pushing this now, since the number of unmanned attacks during his two terms went sky high.”

One unnamed Israeli defense industry executive told Defense News he believed the Israeli government would likely not “overtly refuse” to take part in the US initiative, but expressed hope that it would “drag its feet” until a new president takes office in January.

“[W]e should try to let the clock run out,” the executive was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported on Friday that, after years of delay due to Israeli opposition, the Obama administration is set to approve the sale of $7 billion worth of Boeing fighter jets to Qatar and Kuwait.

According to the report, Israel has tried to block the sale due to its concern that the jets might be used against the Jewish state in the future.

The report said the administration could start notifying congressional lawmakers of the sale “as early as next week.”

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