Netanyahu and James Mattis to talk about Croatia in Jerusalem next week

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13.12.2018.

Boris Kovačev / CROPIX

F16 Israel jet

F-16 jets that Israel wants to sell to Croatia must be returned to original state or Israel has to remove the equipment it installed - this is the man condition for sale of jets according to Department of State's media release.

On Tuesday, the Department of State informed the Congress about Third Party Transfer of military equipment. It approved Israel's sale of jets to Croatia before that. The Congress has 15 days to approve or reject the Department of State's decision. The Congress usually does not object to decisions of the Department of State.

Controversial equipment

USA is objecting the sale of Israeli jets, but as the Department of State noted in its report, some details have to be addressed, but the State Department hopes that cooperation of all parties will help to solve the problem successfully. However, it called on Israel to remove all equipment from the jets that it installed. In addition, one of the conditions is that officials of the Lockheed Martin aerospace and defense company, maker of F-16, prepare equipment to be installed before the jets are sold.

There is a chance

It is becoming clearer why Prime Minister Andrej Plenković clearly stated on Tuesday that Croatia will buy only F-16 BARAKs, which Israel offered, or it will annul the tender. It is obvious that USA informed him about terms that day. Despite the report of the Department of State, Croatian Government top still believes that Croatia could buy the jets Israel offered. However, despite the statement of the Department of State, talks between Israel and USA still are not completed. Negotiations have started a while back, with sources from the Israeli side revealing yesterday that an agreement with USA was not reached. According to unofficial sources, one meeting between ranking US and Israeli officials is to take place tomorrow, while the meeting between Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of Defense James Mattis is slated for next week in Jerusalem.

Final agreement

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović revealed yesterday at the holiday press conference that she received a call from Israeli PM Netanyahu yesterday afternoon and informed her that he will discuss sale of jets to Croatia at the meeting. It is likely that the final agreement on the deal with Croatia could be made at that meeting. According to her words, Israeli PM told her that Israel stands behind its offer and wants to make a deal. The President revealed that she talked with US Ambassador to Croatia Robert Kohorst on Tuesday, stressing that she wants the process to be wrapped up in a transparent and thorough manner.

- It is better to be through than to rush the process. I will insist on Croatia getting what we agreed on at the price we agreed on - she said.

 She pointed out that Croatia cannot wait for the final decision for very long.

- Unfortunately, refitting of MiG-21s in 2013 was a fiasco, with most of those jets grounded at the Zagreb Airport - noted the Supreme Commander.

The Air Force currently has eight jets at its disposal, the question is how many are operational. According to latest unofficial information, the Air Force has three operational jets at most.

Approval

The President said yesterday that she talked to US President Donald Trump and Israeli PM Netanyahu in Paris one month ago about sale of jets, before she knew there was problem with the procurement process. According to her words, at that time, neither US President nor Israeli PM knew there was a problem.

Us Ambassador to Croatia Kohorst officially confirmed there were problems several days ago, noting that Israel has to meet technical requirements in order to sell jets to third parties. He pointed out that Israel knew about the conditions two years ago. This is where we come to the second important message that the Department of State sent yesterday to Croatian media.

 It noted that 'the process requires the country looking to sell military equipment made in USA to understand and communicate the terms to the country looking to buy the equipment'.

This means that Israel had to inform Croatia that it cannot sell F-16s with Israeli equipment installed - it cannot sell F-16 BARAKs, but only the original version of F-16. There is still no official statement on whether Israel officially informed Croatia about USA's terms for selling the jets.

 This is where we can publicly say that the question arises - did Israel trick Croatia? Defense Minister Damir Krstičević clearly answered that question on Tuesday: "We will see at the end of the process."

Inačica na drugom jeziku / Alternate language version