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Tyler Marshall

Error (Los Angeles Times, Tyler Marshall, 2/28/05): During the Clinton administration, in what has been described as a painful dialogue, the United States pressured Israel in 2000 to cancel a potentially lucrative sale to China of its Phalcon airborne early warning and control system, and then persuaded Tel Aviv to impound a fleet of anti-radar drone aircraft that was delivered in China in the mid-1990s but returned to Israel for upgrading.

Fact: This passage erroneously suggests that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel. The correct reference is Jerusalem. In addition, while Marshall reports as fact that Israel cancelled its harpy drone deal with China, there are conflicting news reports about whether Israel did so. There were scattered reports that Israel cancelled the deal by either impounding the drones or sending them back to China without upgrading them. (See, for example, AFP’s “Israel fears huge fine over nixed drones export to China,” Jan. 12, 2005.) However, other news sources note that Israeli officials promptly denied those reports. Thus, Voice of Israel reported Jan. 11, 2005: “Israeli defence sources have ‘categorically denied’ reports that Israel has suspended a deal with China to upgrade drone aircraft.” And, Peter Enav of Associated Press reported the same day: “The Israeli military on Tuesday denied reports that Israel had suspended an upgrade for drone aircraft it sould to China in the 1990s. Rachel Niedak-Ashkenazi, spokeswoman for the Israeli Denfense Ministry, said Israel had not returned parts to the Chinese military as earlier reported.” Furthermore, Marshall’s language suggests that the Harpy drone aircraft issue arose during the Clinton administration, when it happened at the beginning of 2005.