December 04, 2010

Irish Republic blocks US arms to Israel

Ha'aretz has really come into its own given a near total blackout on reports in the UK media regarding Wikileaks reports involving the State of Israel.  Many of the reports have been on the Ha'aretz site for a few days now.  This one on Ireland blocking American arms transfers to Israel via Ireland's Shannon Airport shows how public opinion can have an impact.
The Irish government has acted to limit transfers of American weapons to Israel and Iraq through Shannon Airport in the wake of public outrage after the Second Lebanon War, an American diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks reveals.
The blocking of such transfers could even cost the Irish economy:
A cable sent in 2006 by the U.S. ambassador to Ireland at the time, James C. Kenny, discloses that the deputy head of mission warned Irish officials that the United States would begin using other European airports. Such a move could cost the Irish economy tens of millions of dollars.
But politics sometimes trumps economics:
According to the [US] ambassador, "Segments of the Irish public ... see the airport as a symbol of Irish complicity in perceived U.S. wrongdoing in the Gulf/Middle East." He said the Irish government "has recently introduced more cumbersome notification requirements for equipment-related transits in the wake of the Lebanon conflict."
The ambassador noted that the Irish foreign office protested to him that in February 2006, Apache helicopters were sent to Israel via Ireland without the local authorities being appropriately informed.
The ambassador wrote that senior Irish officials told him informally that if the United States made further mistakes in its conduct at the airport, the matter could become a central issue in Ireland's 2007 elections.
Imagine, arms to Israel becoming an issue in the elections of a western state....


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