TEL AVIV Ñ Israel has signed a $20 million contract with Microsoft
Corp. in a move that has alarmed Arab states.
Microsoft Israel, a subsidiary, signed a 100 million shekel [$20.2
million] contract for the supply of services, programs and support for
computers in the Defense Ministry and military.
Arab diplomatic sources said the contract has sparked rumors that
Microsoft is helping Israel crack the computer systems of the militaries of
its neighbors. An estimated 50 million people use Microsoft in the Middle
East and the company has 29 offices in the region, according to Middle East Newsline.
The contract will last three
years and was financed by U.S. military aid to Israel.
A report on an Arab website accused Microsoft of providing Israel with
software that can trace thousands of Arab Internet sites. Israel has been
tracking sites linked to Al Qaida, Hamas and other Islamic insurgency
"Microsoft does not develop software programs especially for military
purposes," Fahd Al Sudairi, Microsoft's marketing manager in Saudi Arabia,
said. "But at the same time [it] has no restrictions for its use in this field."
Industry sources said this was the largest contract between Israel's
Defense Ministry and Microsoft. They said the company will supply Israel's
and military establishment with services in the field of data protection
that will prevent hackers from entering and disrupting computers in the
military and security agencies.