The Israel-Poland arms trading relationship-Backgrounder

Israel and Poland have had an arms trading relationship from the first days after Poland emerged from the Communist bloc and turned to the US and Nato as allies. Indeed, several members of the party that evolved from the Polish Communist party were involved in a scandal involving arms purchases from an Israeli company.

Poland and Israel have many special ties, some involving the location in Poland of extermination camps like Auschwitz. As well, Poland facilitated the departure from the former Solviet Union of Russian Jews destined for Israel. Many Israelis have a Polish background. The two countries have exchanged many visits of presidents and ministers of foreign affairs.

After being  invited to join NATO in 1989, Poland has become an enthusiastic NATO member, sending troops to Afghanistan in the original deployment, and preparing to send additional troops in 2009 to combat the worsening situation to NATO occupying forces.

Part of the prepartion Poland has undertaken to join NATO has been to create interoperability with NATO technology and operating procedures. This has meant that Poland has purchased a large amount of new arms from NATO compatible arms companies, like those in the US and Israel.

In September, 2008, Polish Defence Minister Bogdan Klich announced that Poland planned to spend $25 Billion over the next ten years to modernise Poland’s military. Sizeable chunks of this funding would go to buy American made missiles. Some would be used to protect American missiles to be stationed in Poland under a US-Poland agreement signed in August, 2008. Poland is rumoured to have demanded that the Americans supply Poland with Patriot Missiles in return for Americans placing interceptor missiles on Polish soil.

Poland, like other new members to NATO, has committed to increasing defence spending.  Much of this spending will go to the US. But a sizeable chunk will go to Israel, and the domestic armaments industry, which is sometimes just a manufacturing facility for Israeli designed military equipment.

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