Israel, UAE Have History of Secret Arms Deals

Israel, UAE Have History of Secret Arms DealsIsrael, UAE Have History of Secret Arms Deals

Israeli and UAE businessmen have allegedly brokered secret arms agreements, an investigation in Israel has revealed.

Israeli businessman Metai Kokhafi was allegedly responsible for brokering arms deals with his Emirati counterparts, according to a report in Maariv newspaper, The New Arab reported.

The report, citing former intelligence and strategic affairs correspondent for the Haaretz newspaper, Yossi Melman, said Kokhafi hired a private plane to fly his assistants and generals into the UAE capital Abu Dhabi to agree on the terms of the deal.

An Israeli military visit to the capital was an essential part of each military sales, the journalist said.

Among the generals who were reported to have visited Abu Dhabi was the former commander of the Israeli Air Force, Eitan Ben Eliyahu. He led the force  during Operation Grapes of Wrath in southern Lebanon in 1996.

The report says that Kokhafi had “embarrassed Israel” after he boasted during a meeting in Singapore that he and his team were mediating arms deals with the UAE.

The Maariv report said Melman had criticized Tel Aviv for remaining silent on arms dealings and cooperation with Arab states, saying it would be beneficial for Israel if the evolving relationship was more overt.

It cites Melman as saying that the reason behind censorship which was to “ensure no lives of officials are put in danger” was redundant, hinting that normalizing relations with Arab states should be made public.

  Egypt Connection

The Haaretz newspaper journalist had also drawn parallels between Tel Aviv’s quiet relationship with Abu Dhabi with Israel’s open diplomatic ties with Egypt.

He believes Israeli media should be more open about the government’s close ties with Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s regime in Egypt.

Israeli intelligence corps Unit 8200 has allegedly been providing the Egyptian army with intelligence during the battle against the militants connected with the self-styled Islamic State group in the Sinai.

The report had also criticized Israel for refusing to admit to supplying weapons to the Myanmar military, with the government accused of committing war crimes against the country’s Muslim Rohingya population.

Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi have no diplomatic ties and the UAE does not recognize Israel but the two sides have increased backchannel cooperation in recent years.

In November 2015, Israeli Foreign Ministry announced that Tel Aviv would “soon” open a “permanent mission” in Abu Dhabi meant to operate as part of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) based in the city.

Most recently in June 2017, an intercept report released a number of hacked emails belonging to the UAE ambassador to the US showing that Yousef Al-Otaiba had been collaborating with a pro-Israel think tank, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

The correspondence between Otaiba and the FDD covered a range of topics related to Iran.


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