High Court to Make Secret Ruling on Israeli Arms Sales to Myanmar

UN declared Myanmar engaged in 'textbook ethnic cleansing' ■ Ignoring EU, U.S. embargo, Israel is only Western country selling it arms ■ Activists demand halt of sales

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Myanmar's Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing meeting in Jerusalem, September 10, 2017.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Myanmar's Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing meeting in Jerusalem, September 10, 2017.Credit: Senior General Min Aung Hlaing's Facebook
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

Israel’s High Court is set to rule on Wednesday on a petition against weapons sales to Myanmar.

The UN has declared that the government of Myanmar is engaging in “textbook ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority.

The court decision will remain secret because the judges hearing the case – Yoram Danziger, Anat Baron and David Mintz – issued a gag order on it at the request of the state.

At a Monday hearing, state representatives reiterated their position that the court shouldn’t interfere with Israel's foreign relations and not tell it which countries it is permitted to sell arms to.

Military and local security personnel keep Rohingya refugees in line as they queue for aid at Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, September 26, 2017.Credit: CATHAL MCNAUGHTON/REUTERS

Every Israeli company that wants to sell weapons to foreign countries must receive approval from the state. However, the state has not confirmed or denied whether there is a permit to sell arms to Myanmar.

The state attorney explained Israel’s relations with Myanmar to the justices in a closed-door session after Monday's hearing. In the part of the session open to the public, the state representative, attorney Shosh Shmueli, refused to comment on the issue or state whether Israel would stop arming Myanmar’s military.

In response to a question from the floor by lawmaker Tamar Zandberg of Meretz about arms exports to Myanmar, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said: “Generally speaking we subordinate ourselves to the entire enlightened world.”

Myanmar's Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services (R) Senior General Min Aung Hlaing with Israeli Army chief Gadi Eisenkot (L) in Tel-Aviv, September 2015

Attorney Itay Mack, who filed the petition in the name of human rights activists, said at the hearing that the EU and the United States had banned arms trade with Myanmar. He added that Israel is the only Western country supplying it arms.

The situation of the Rohingya’s, considered the most persecuted minority on the planet, has deteriorated in recent weeks. Over 400,000 Rohingyas have sought refuge in neighborhing Bangladesh. Myanmar’s military has committed recently several massacres and dozens of rapes, and has razed numerous Rohingya villages. The military operation to clear out the region began after Rohingya rebels attacked soldiers in northern Myanmar. The country’s leader Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, had denied the charges against her government.

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