The ethos of the IAF has always been 'only the best for the pilots' .Hence the IAF became one of the first airforces to receive aircraft like the F-4E Phantom, F-15 and F-16 outside the USAF. There are many considerations which will have been taken onto account by the IAF in selecting a new trainer. Commercial considerations such as bilateral trade will be very low down or irrelevant for the airforce.The IAF is renowned for having the most stringent pilot selection and training of any airforce. If the IAF has actually gone public on its preferred aircraft , which I am not convinced it has, it would surely only do so if the Italian aircraft was so much better than the South Korean that the IAF wants to exert maximum pressure on the Government to go Italian. Hopefully the best aircraft will win the contest.
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from the article: South Korea looking to buy Israel's Iron Dome aerial defense system