U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited Israel for the last stop of his Middle East visit after meeting with officials in Egypt and Jordan. During his speech to the Knesset, Pence reiterated President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and stated that the U.S. would complete its embassy relocation by the end of 2019.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embarked on a 6-day trip to India beginning on January 14th. The visit was intended to boost economic cooperation between the two countries, hosting an India-Israel CEO Forum. Netanyahu also met with individuals from the Indian Jewish community. After the trip, Netanyahu thanked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the warm reception he received during the visit, which he termed “historic.”
On Thursday, Jordan announced that Israel had apologized for the deaths of two of its citizens during a shooting at the Israeli Embassy last July that led to the closure of said embassy. The Israeli Office of the Prime Minister partially confirmed the Jordanian announcement, saying that Israel expressed regret for the incident and that Israel would appoint a new ambassador. Israel also announced that it would not be prosecuting the guard responsible for the shooting as Jordan had previously demanded.
After years of declining Bedouin participation in the Israeli Defense Forces, Bedouin volunteers increased by 40 percent in 2017. The IDF announced plans to introduce more incentives for volunteers including more professional training, as well as housing assistance, legal aid, and employment guidance.
Israeli Military Technology
The Israeli Navy will soon upgrade its ships with new missile defense technology allowing the vessels to identify hostile projectiles and fire chaff intended to mislead the incoming weapons. The system has been tested against anti-ship cruise missiles and already deployed on INS Sufa.
Foreign Military Sales
Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that a $500 million Spike anti-tank guided weapon deal with India is still up for negotiations after India canceled the agreement late last year.
Elbit was awarded a $46 million NATO contract to supply NATO’s Airbus A330 Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet with J-Music DIRCM (Direct Infrared Countermeasures) self-protection systems.
Israel delivered an advanced reconnaissance jet to Italy, fulfilling a $1.17 billion agreement signed in 2012. As part of the deal, the Israeli Air Force acquired 30 Leonardo M-346 Lavi jets, while Italy agreed to buy satellites and the two G550 Conformal Airborne Early Warning and Control (CAEW) surveillance planes. The first of the two surveillance jets was delivered last year and has already participated in several exercises with NATO air forces.
Elbit Systems announced that plans to pay $550 million to buy the state-owned Israel Military Industries and that the company is willing to spin off IMI’s missile division. The Israeli Antitrust Authority set the sale of the missile division as a precondition for buyout due to concerns of discrimination against current customers of the IMI missile division who compete with Elbit.
The Trump administration announced that it would not be paying $45 million it had previously pledged to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) for food aid. Additionally, the U.S. State Department said last Tuesday it would withhold $65 million from the organization after President Trump lambasted the Palestinian Authority in a tweet for refusing to rejoin the peace process. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that these cuts are to motivate UNWRA to implement reforms. In response to the reductions in U.S. funding, UNWRA announced that they would be launching a new fundraising appeal aiming to raise $500 million to ensure that its core services are unaffected.