Even though they cannot prevent military-technical cooperation between the two countries, they do succeed in creating a headache for Israeli companies that work with Baku.
Israeli company Aeronautics has been manufacturing UAVs for 20 years. The company operates in 60 countries around the world. One of the company’s most serious clients is Azerbaijan. As we know, Aeronautics has built a plant for manufacturing UAV parts in Azerbaijan jointly with Azerbaijani company AZAD. Aeronautics’ cooperation with Azerbaijan began in 2009 with the approval of the Ministry of Defense of Israel, and this cooperation has been successfully continuing for many years.
It was recently reported that representatives of Aeronautics in Israel would be put on trial for one instance of assistance to Azerbaijan in 2017…
This is what happened: in July 2017, during another spike in tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Aeronautics promptly supplied Orbiter K1 model combat UAVs at the request of the Azerbaijani side. As part of the deal, Aeronautics delivered the equipment, trained and instructed the Azerbaijani side on how to use it, then handed over the UAVs. The Azerbaijani side used the acquired systems in military actions against Armenia. Aeronautics representatives were nearby, but the Azerbaijani side carried out all the control of the systems on its own. After that, according to the information available to us, at the initiative of the pro-Armenian lobby in Israel, a complaint was filed with the Defense Ministry and an investigation was initiated against Aeronautics and its management.
Without further ado, Aeronautics executives were accused in 2017 of unauthorized support to Azerbaijan’s military operations against Armenia, as well as of supplying combat systems to Azerbaijan, despite the obvious fact that Azerbaijan was going to use them immediately against the Armenian side. The company is accused of acting allegedly without obtaining the necessary permits from the Ministry of Defense of Israel. Moreover, at the request of the Azerbaijani side, Aeronautics executives were allegedly ready to launch a demonstration strike on the positions of the Armenian army.
According to the law, Israelis have no right to participate personally in combat operations in conflicts in which Israel is not involved. Therefore, Aeronautics representatives argue that they delivered the UAVs and trained the Azerbaijani military, but had no part in the strike… They also insist that they had acted in compliance with all existing regulations and had obtained all the necessary permits from the Defense Ministry, and no violations of any laws had taken place…
It is no secret that defense cooperation between Israel and Azerbaijan annoys Armenia to no end. During the war for the liberation of Karabakh in 2020, Armenia even recalled its ambassador from Israel in protest against Israeli arms deliveries to Azerbaijan.
We also remember the protest rally of the Armenian lobby in front of the Israeli Consulate General in Los Angeles against Israel’s support of Azerbaijan. The protesters did not even hesitate to compare modern Israel to Nazi Germany.
In short, both the Armenian lobby in various countries and the pro-Armenian lobby in Israel are constantly going to great lengths to damage the contacts and disrupt the close relations between our countries. The current precedent, however, is, in my opinion, a cynical attempt by the Armenian lobby to take advantage of Israel’s legal system. It is a precedent that could damage the close relations between Israel and Azerbaijan in the field of security.
After a lengthy investigation, the material gathered was sent to Avihai Mandelblit, Attorney General of Israel. According to the information available to us, the prosecution did not want to go to trial and suggested that Aeronautics and its representatives make a pre-trial deal in which the punishment would be limited to a fine and community service. But the Aeronautics representatives refused to compromise, believing that since they had not committed any violations of the law, there was no reason to take the case to court and a deal was out of the question.
Attorney General hesitated for a long time. He probably realized that putting Aeronautics and its former executives on trial for actions aimed at aiding Azerbaijan could create an unwelcome backlash in the relations with an important strategic partner of Israel. Nevertheless, after a year and a half of deliberation, Mandelblit announced that he had decided to formally charge Aeronautics and three executives that worked for it in 2017.
By doing so, Israel’s Attorney General has, in my opinion, decided to sacrifice the interests of relations between Israel and Azerbaijan to the demands of the pro-Armenian lobby…
Lawyers for Aeronautics representatives Nati Samhoni and Asaf Klein said (their statement was published in the Israeli Globs): “We were deeply disappointed to hear about the prosecution’s decision to put the employees who worked for Aeronautics in 2017 on trial. We believe this decision is completely wrong and unreasonable, and the prosecution should have taken our position and dismissed the case. Our clients are convinced of their innocence, and we believe and hope that after the case goes to trial, especially after the testimony of the client’s representatives who will corroborate Aeronautics’ testimony, their innocence will be proven and all charges will be dismissed.”
Israel and Azerbaijan are partner countries. Moreover, our countries are bound by years of close friendship, mutual trust and common strategic interests.
For a long time, the pro-Armenian lobby has been steadily working to drive a wedge into relations Israel and Azerbaijan. It seems to me that the filing of the indictment against Aeronautics executives for their actions in Azerbaijan is a dangerous precedent that could jeopardize various aspects of cooperation between our countries. The actions of a handful of concerned individuals in Israel must not be allowed to harm the most important national interests of the two countries.
When people in Azerbaijan hear about this case, they express surprise and concern. “It’s unfortunate,” one highly respected person told me. “Hopefully, it is not too late for Israel to make a decision to prevent a dangerous precedent that could mar the great relationship between our countries. It feels like the Armenian lobby is cynically and selectively using the law for its own purposes, to pit our countries against each other.”
As we can see, the possible punishment of Aeronautics for its quite legal activities within the framework of intergovernmental agreements may cause a rift in Israel’s relations with Azerbaijan, its reliable foreign policy partner. Most importantly, the forces serving Armenian interests in Israel should understand that their actions first and foremost damage the strategic interests of their own country for the benefit of Armenia.
Translated from Minval.az