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Israel: Implementation of Status of Forces Agreement with Greece

(Dec. 21, 2017) On November 20, 2017, the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) passed the Law for Implementation of the Agreement Between the State of Israel and the Government of the Republic of Greece Regarding the Status of Their Forces, 5778-2017 (the Law) (SEFER HAHUKIM [BOOK OF LAWS, SH] 5778 No. 2671 p. 44, RESHUMOT [OFFICIAL GAZETTE] (enter  2671 in upper left box and click on search at bottom left) (in Hebrew)).

The Law gives legislative effect to the implementation of the agreement on the status of forces that was signed by Greece and Israel on July 19, 2015 (Agreement). (Yaakov Lappin, Israel, Greece Sign Status of Forces Agreement, JERUSALEM POST (July 19, 2015).)

According to the explanatory notes attached to the draft bill of the Law, the objective of an agreement regarding status of forces is to regulate legal and logistical aspects relating to security cooperation between countries, including jurisdiction in criminal matters, handling of civil suits, and tax issues. Israel is already a party to similar agreements with the United States and Cyprus. (Draft Law for Implementation of the Agreement Between the State of Israel and the Government of the Republic of Greece Regarding the Status of Their Forces, 5778-2017, Government Bill No. 1146 p. 1196, RESHUMOT, Issue No. 1146 (in Hebrew).)

The Agreement determines the principal requirements that apply to the parties’ military personnel in connection with defined military activities, including visits by vessels and aircraft, joint military exercises, and joint military research and developments approved by the government. (Law §§ 1-2.) Accordingly, military personnel of the country to which visiting forces belong (the sending country) must comply with the law of the host country. The sending country has the right to exercise its exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate its personnel for offenses of a disciplinary nature. (Id. §§ 3 & 5.)

The Agreement extends to issues including weapon carrying and protection, military uniforms, and reciprocal recognition of drivers’ licenses by host countries. (Id. §§ 6-8.) It further covers criminal adjudication and handling of civil suits. (Id. §§ 9-10.) The Agreement also covers areas concerning provision of medical services, taxes, information security, emergency evacuation, and investigation of security-related events taking place in the territory of either of the parties. (Id. §§ 11 & 16.) It generally calls for resorting to good-faith direct cooperation in resolving any conflict regarding its interpretation or implementation in lieu of any national or international judicial or other forum. (Id. § 17.)