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Tourism is nice, but the big money in the peace agreement is waiting for the Israeli arms industry


Jul 10, 2017
Tourism is nice, but the big money in the peace agreement is waiting for the Israeli arms industry

The United Arab Emirates' defense budget is $ 23 billion a year, and Israel hopes to gain a share ■ Even before relations normalize, exports of weapons and cyber to the Union amounted to tens of millions of shekels a year ■ Concern: US, the main arms exporter to the Union, may impose restrictions
Hagai Amit was published on 16.08.20
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IAI UAV at an exhibition in Singapore
IAI UAV at Singapore Photo Exhibition: SeongJoon Cho / Bloomberg

The WhatsApp groups of quite a few Israeli families were enthusiastic over the weekend in response to the agreement reached between Israel and the United Arab Emirates: "Are the rumors true? The next family reunion in the Emirates? Dad has already ordered tickets? On which floor in Burj Khalifa are our rooms?

The enthusiasm for the possibility of flying to glittering Dubai, especially these days, is understandable, but the tourism ties between the UAE and Israel will probably be remembered as an economic anecdote. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have spoken in his speech on Thursday about tourism developing between the two countries - but did not emphasize the area in which the agreement could have significant implications: the Israeli arms and cyber industries.
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The UAE defense budget amounts to about $ 23 billion a year, and is growing. Most of the amount - about $ 20 billion a year - goes to purchases from the American arms industry. The Israeli arms industry has already talked over the weekend that the agreement may signal a trend that will compensate for the cuts in world defense budgets and the new aid agreement with the US following the corona crisis. The local industry sees the Emirates as a convenient business partner: beyond the deep pockets - an undemocratic regime. Quick decision on military procurement.

Last July it won the headlines for signing a collaboration between Rafael and IAI and a business group from the UAE, regarding the development of corona identification tests. All the companies we contacted on the subject refused to confirm this, but the Israeli arms giants - Elbit, IAI, Rafael and Aeronautics, along with cyber companies such as Envision and NSO - have been active in the Persian Gulf for several years.

For example, Insights operates Dubai's public participation platform - the crowded union in the union - through which the government consults with the public on civic issues. Also, businessmen like Matti Kochavi, David Meidan, Avi Leumi and Avichai Stolro have been active in the country for quite a few years. The companies and businessmen are involved in the sale of intelligence equipment, UAVs, reconnaissance aircraft, improvement of F-16 aircraft and means of protection and attack on phones and computers.

Will the United Arab Emirates invest in Israeli high-tech? A joint company is already under construction

It is estimated that Israeli exports of weapons and cyber technologies to the United Arab Emirates reach several hundred million shekels a year. Everything is happening under the radar - in the absence of official relations between the countries.
Emirates and Israel

In the Israeli arms industry, there were those who raised the concern over the weekend that it was precisely the exit from Israel's coffin and the United Arab Emirates regarding the arms trade that could harm businesses whose secrecy is good for them. However, most arms manufacturers in Israel estimated that the transformation of relations between the countries and the official ones would lead to an increase in sales of weapons systems, cyber technologies and command and control systems to the Gulf countries.
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About five years ago, for example, the Gulf states became interested in purchasing an Iron Dome system - and withdrew. One may wonder whether these days, when there is a growing fear of their Iranian neighbor attacking oil facilities, they will reconsider this purchase or the purchase of other Israeli defense systems.

At the end of the week, they still could not say in the Ministry of Defense if and when a delegation would leave for the United Arab Emirates on their behalf. Much depends on how the agreements between the two sides will develop. A third party, and no less important, in the draft agreement is the United States. For the Americans, it is a peace agreement in the Middle East between two countries that rely on their arms industry.

However, it is doubtful whether US arms manufacturers are enthusiastic about the agreement, which sets them a new competitor on the generous budgets of the Gulf states. It would not be surprising if the new agreement would have restrictions on the part of the US to protect its industry.
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What about the defense and foreign ministries

Netanyahu instructed the head of the National Security Staff, Meir Ben-Shabbat, to manage the preparations for the talks with the United Arab Emirates. In view of the complex issues, the division of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense cannot continue.

In order to reach an optimal agreement, also financially, the professionals in the two ministries - controlled by the Blue and White Party - must be involved. The agreement cannot be concluded between Trump, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and the Israeli Prime Minister's Office.

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