Dutch Appeals Court rules the Netherlands must stop within 7 days the export of parts for F-35 fighter jets to Israel

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: An Israeli Air Force F-35I with four GBU-31s in the foreground.

This morning, the Associated Press reports: “Judges in the Netherlands on Monday [February 12] ordered the Dutch government to halt the export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel, citing a clear risk of violations of international law. A trio of human rights organizations [have] argued that delivery of parts for the aircraft makes the Netherlands complicit in possible war crimes being committed by Israel in its war with Hamas. The Hague Court of Appeals [has now] ordered the government to cease exports within seven days.”

Judge Bas Boele says: “It is undeniable that there is a clear risk that the exported F-35 parts are used in serious violations of international humanitarian law.”

The ruling also said: “Israel does not take sufficient account of the consequences for the civilian population when conducting its attacks.”

CNBC further reports: “The appeals court also said it was likely that the F-35s were being used in attacks on Gaza, leading to unacceptable civilian casualties. It dismissed the Dutch state’s argument that it did not have to do a new check on the permit for the exports.”

And The Jerusalem Post adds: “[The court] said the state had to comply with the order within seven days and dismissed a request by government lawyers to suspend the order during an appeal to the Supreme Court.”

The Court’s ruling can be read in full here.

Lockheed Martin has responded: “We’re working closely with the F-35 Joint Program Office to evaluate the impacts the recent Dutch court ruling will have on our supply chain.”

The F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office (JPO) is “the United States Government representative and implementing agency for the F-35 Production, Sustainment and Follow on Development Memorandum of Understanding (PSFD MOU) between the countries.”

F-35 partner countries include Canada.

On November 2, 2023, the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) reported: “Prior to the conclusion of the open competition for the Future Fighter Capability Program [January 9, 2023], Canada had contributed funds towards the 2006 Joint Strike Fighter Memorandum of Understanding. With contributions during each of the 2010-11 through the 2022-23 fiscal years, these amounts totaled approximately $0.5 billion.”

The PBO adds: “Contributions occurring in the 2023-24 fiscal year and later are fully included in the estimates described in this report.”

Canadian parts in F-35s

Significantly, Kelsey Gallagher of Project Ploughshares has noted in “Fanning the Flames” that at least 110 Canadian-based suppliers have been awarded contracts for the F-35 program and that a study commissioned by Lockheed Martin in 2018 says there are US$2.3-million worth of Canadian components in every F-35 jet.

Legal implications for Canada

The Court of Appeals ruling also highlights: “The Netherlands is a party to several international regulations which stipulate that if a clear risk of serious violations of international humanitarian law exists, the Netherlands has the obligation to prevent the export of military equipment.”

Canada is under similar obligations.

Commenting on the International Court of Justice finding on January 26 that it is “plausible” that Israel has committed acts in Gaza that violate the Genocide Convention, law professors from York University and the University of Toronto have commented: “Because the ICJ found a serious risk of genocide in Gaza, continuing to export arms to Israel would be illegal [under the Export and Import Permits Act where Canada’s ascension to the Arms Trade Treaty is reflected]. It would also be flagrantly inconsistent with Canada’s obligation to prevent genocide, and could expose Canada and Canadian officials to liability for participation in genocide.”

Ottawa-based CADSI, the lobby group for the arms industry in Canada that counts among its members Lockheed Martin, has not commented on social media about either the International Court of Justice or Court of Appeals rulings.

We continue to follow this.

Photo: Defund Warplanes protest on Parliament Hill on January  7, two days before Canada announced it had contracted with Lockheed Martin to buy F-35 fighter jets.

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