October 25, 2020

To: All Cabinet and Knesset members.
From: Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Matan Vilnai
Re: The defense establishment must be consulted on matters of national security

Concurrent with the good news of progress toward establishing diplomatic relations with another Arab country, Sudan, it was also revealed that Israel has given its approval to the sale of F35 jets to the UAE.  According to the Minister of Defense, Israeli acquiescence in this sale was given – in the context of the normalization process or otherwise – without consulting the country’s security agencies.

Ignoring the need to be presented with security ramifications of the introduction of advanced weapon systems to our region puts Israel’s security at risk. It is unacceptable that such decisions are made without the benefit of the assessment of those entrusted by the State to estimate risks involved, including potential implications for the IDF’s freedom of action in theaters relevant to Israel’s national security.

It goes without saying that Israel’s political leaders have sole authority to decide on matters such as acquiescence to the sale of F35s and other advanced weapons systems to countries in the region. Still, it behooves political leaders to appraise themselves of the full implications of their actions before making a decision. Hence the need for the government to consult with the security establishment’s experts throughout the decision making process. This is the only way to secure the IDF’s qualitative military edge [QME] for decades to come and to guarantee that decisions are made based on the best available professional assessment of all relevant considerations and that national security tops the priority list.

In the name of the hundreds of CIS members, I call upon you not to allow a hasty and ill-considered decision to erode Israel’s qualitative edge over any adversary or combination of adversaries. You can help ensure this vital national interest by demanding that a protocol is enacted requiring members of the Security Cabinet to consult with the security agencies before making decisions with major implications for national security. The process should also be subject to Knesset oversight to be exercised by the relevant subcommittee of the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, whose deliberations are classified.

Maj. Gen (Res.) Matan Vilnai
Commanders for Israel’s Security