Denmark has canceled what could have been a major arms purchase from Israel’s Elbit Systems.
Arms industry publication Jane’s revealed on 1 May that the Danish military had canceled a plan to buy 21 155-mm self-propelled artillery systems.
According to Jane’s, Elbit was a finalist for the contract along with South Korea’s Samsung. In March, the Danish newspaper Politiko reported that military procurement authorities had all but officially chosen the Israeli system.
Danish military officials say the cancelation was a financial decision driven by the need to reassign funding to other purposes.
But Christian Juhl, a member of the Danish parliament for the Red-Green Alliance, told the publication Modkraft that the official explanation is a cover story.
As lawmakers began to take an interest in the issue and it began to get negative media exposure, the government looked for a way out, according to Juhl.
Modkraft says the potential purchase came to light when a Danish colonel revealed on Facebook last December that a number of his country’s soldiers were in the Negev (Naqab) region of present-day Israel for a training exercise.
The post led to parliamentary questions and the disclosure that 20 Danish personnel had been there to test the Elbit artillery system.
According to Juhl, the defense ministry got cold feet over the purchase amid growing public opposition.
In March, Norway’s public broadcaster NRK reported on the growing criticism of the planned purchase from Elbit because the weapons Denmark could acquire were likely “tested on Palestinians.”
NRK said that Denmark has previously purchased weapons including grenades and shells from Israel.
Danish lawmaker Juhl warned that the artillery purchase might only have been postponed for electoral reasons and could be resumed later.
Politiko reported in March that the potential arms deal with Israel was a source of growing political problems for the leftist parties supporting the government.
Denmark is currently ruled by a center-left government led by the Social Democrats, which does not include the Red-Green Alliance.
In a posting on his own Facebook page, Juhl said the weapons deal with Elbit had been “embarrassing” for the coalition parties.
Arms embargo pressure
Last July, in the midst of the Israeli attack, several Nobel laureates and dozens of writers and intellectuals appealed in The Guardian for an end to the arms trade with Israel.
“Israel’s military technology is marketed as ‘field-tested’ and exported across the world,” says the letter whose signatories include Nobel Peace Prize winners Adolfo Peres Esquivel, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Betty Williams, Jody Williams and Mairead Maguire.
“Military trade and joint military-related research relations with Israel embolden Israeli impunity in committing grave violations of international law and facilitate the entrenchment of Israel’s system of occupation, colonization and systematic denial of Palestinian rights.”
“We call on the UN and governments across the world to take immediate steps to implement a comprehensive and legally binding military embargo on Israel, similar to that imposed on South Africa during apartheid,” the letter concludes.
A number of European pension funds, including several in Denmark, have barred investments in Elbit because of its involvement in Israeli occupation activities.