´MOD dir.-gen. violated defense export laws´ (JERUSALEM POST) By YAAKOV KATZ 05/01/12)
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Director General of the Defense Ministry Udi Shani violated defense
export laws and regulations when approving a number of defense deals
in recent years, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss found in a
report on Israeli defense exports released Tuesday.
In his defense, Shani argued that the cases probed by the
comptroller´s office were not significant and therefore he decided to
rule on them independently and without following the regulations or
first consulting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Defense officials familiar with the report said that it was "one of
the most severe reports ever written about the MOD" and that it was
possible that Shani would need to step down. Lindenstrauss noted in
the report that Defense Minister Ehud Barak informed him that he
would be willing to take "all steps necessary" to correct the
problems discovered during the investigation.
In his report, Lindenstrauss revealed that Shani changed the
ministry´s policy in 2010 in the way it provides export licenses to
companies seeking to sell their systems overseas. Until then, the MOD
granted all companies licenses even if they were going to compete
against one another for the same tender. In 2010 though, Shani
announced that he would refuse to grant licenses in such cases.
According to Lindenstrauss, Shani should not have been allowed to
change the policy on his own and should have consulted with other
government agencies outside of the defense establishment. In
addition, Lindenstrauss criticized Shani for not incorporating the
new policy into official MOD procedures.
The investigation by the comptroller´s office into Israeli defense
exports was considered sensitive and involved all of the relevant MOD
agencies involved in approving sales to foreign customers. Israel is
considered a world leader in the defense market and traditionally has
exports ranging between $7-8 billion on an annual basis.
In three cases, the comptroller found, Shani ignored export
procedures and decided to grant export licenses to companies to sell
military platforms overseas despite opposition from the Foreign
According to export regulations, in the event that there is a
disagreement between the Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry
regarding an export licenses, the issue will first go to a meeting
between two department heads from the two ministries. If they fail to
agree, it will then be brought before the director generals of both
offices. If they fail to agree, it will be brought before a
ministerial committee led by the prime minister.
Lindenstrauss wrote in his report that he uncovered three cases when
Shani ignored procedures and decided to accept the MOD´s
recommendation to grant the license while ignoring the Foreign
"The director general and head of the MOD export agency, overstepped
their authority and acted against the law," the comptroller wrote.
In another case, the comptroller discovered that Shani and head of
the MOD export agency decided to ignore the personal opposition of
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to a specific deal and granted an
"The director general of the MOD cannot decide what the law will be
on his own. There is no justification for unilateral steps by him
that are against the law," Lindenstrauss wrote in his report.
The Defense Ministry rejected the comptroller´s harsh findings and
officials said that Shani did not plan on stepping down in wake of
the severe criticism.
"The MOD regrets that the comptroller was not able to properly
express the complicated and sensitive nature of the strategic defense
ties it maintains with various countries and their impact on
enabling the IDF to maintain its qualitative military edge," the
MOD´s Public Affairs Office said in response to the report. "There is
no disagreement that this activity needs to be done in accordance
with laws and regulations but there also needs to be room for
consideration and flexibility to maneuver in special cases pertaining
to these strategic relationships."
According to the MOD, had Shani not acted the way he did by approving
these export deals, "the comptroller would have needed to publish a
report on how Israel lost strategic ties with countries due to
"We understand the criticism that appears in the report in two cases
out of thousands but we claim that the criticism does not take the
special circumstances into consideration and instead sanctifies
bureaucracy over substance," the MOD continued. (© 1995-2011, The
Jerusalem Post 05/01/12)
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