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Monday, May 29, 2006

Israel to participate in first full NATO exercise

Both the Jerusalem Post and HaAretz are reporting that Israel is going to participate in its first full NATO exercise next month.

The exercise, which is called "Cooperation Mako," will take place in the Black Sea and will involve several Israeli missile boats.

Over the past several months, and with the Iranian threat looming, there has been speculation about Israel joining NATO, but the Israeli government has tried to play down that speculation out of its desire to maintain its independence in matters of national self-defense.

According to HaAretz:
Alon Ben-David, Israel analyst for Jane's Defence Weekly, said Cooperation Mako aimed mainly to improve NATO security missions in the Mediterranean and that Israel was especially interested in combined air force exercises.

"Given Israel's strategic reality, it is crucial to be part of a defensive coalition," Ben-David said.
The Post adds this interesting piece of information, which has nothing to do with the exercise (as far as I can tell anyway):

Several months ago, Israel received a delegation of NATO officers who accompanied an AWAC early warning surveillance plane which they brought to demonstrate to the Israel Air Force.

Head of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force Gen. Axel Tuttelman said the AWAC plane, which contained unique surveillance capabilities, was brought to Israel as part of a larger effort to enhance security cooperation between NATO and Israel in the war on global terrorism.

While the United States and Israel have yet to decide if they would launch a military offensive against Iran, Tuttelman told The Jerusalem Post that if NATO was involved his forces would be the first to be called up.

"We would be the first to be called up if the NATO Council decided we should be," he said during a tour of the AWAC plane parked in an IAF base in the center of the country. NATO's early warning force, Tuttelman said, was involved in NATO's most recent large military offensive in Kosovo.


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