© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Flags of the United Arab Emirates and Israel flutter during Israel’s National Day ceremony at Expo 2020 Dubai, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, January 31, 2022. REUTERS/ Christopher Pike /
By Alexander Cornwell and John Irish
DUBAI/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Israel has agreed to sell an advanced air defense system to the United Arab Emirates, two sources familiar with the matter said, in the first such known deal between them. since they established relations in 2020.
For some Arab states, the agreement that underpins the resolution of the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict has now been overshadowed by national priorities, such as security and the economy.
Israel and the United States’ allied UAEs share a common fear: Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon, an ambition Tehran denies.
Israel approved the UAE’s request in mid-summer and will supply the Gulf state with SPYDER mobile interceptors made by Rafael, the two sources said, declining to provide further details. details due to the sensitive nature of the agreement.
A third source said the UAE had acquired Israeli technology capable of fending off drone attacks like those in Abu Dhabi earlier this year.
Israel’s Ministry of Defense and SPYDER producer Rafael declined to comment. The UAE’s Foreign Ministry was not available for comment.
It is not yet clear how many interceptors, equipped for vehicles and able to defend against short-to-long-range threats, will be supplied or shipped.
When asked if Israel provides the UAE with air defense systems, Parliamentary Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ram Ben-Barak told Israel radio on September 20 that there is extensive cooperation with the UAE. , but declined to comment further.
The need to beef up the UAE’s air defenses has increased following a series of missile and drone attacks on the Gulf state in January and February. Most of the attacks were intercepted. , but one attack killed three civilians in Abu Dhabi.
Foreign diplomats said the attack rattled the leaders of the UAE, which has long prided itself on its security and stability in a volatile region. A terminal under construction at Abu Dhabi airport was also attacked, injuring civilian employees, sources briefed on the attack said.
Sources said at least some of the missiles and drones flew at low altitudes to escape detection by the US-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and system. intercept the Patriot, the sources said.
Rafael says SPYDER can protect large areas from threats such as drones, cruise missiles, attack aircraft, helicopters and bombers, even from low altitudes.
President Isaac Herzog, visiting the UAE in January when an intercepted attack took place, said Israel supports the UAE’s security needs. And last week, Prime Minister Yair Lapid said he was appalled by the attacks and that Israel stood with the UAE.
Most of the attacks were claimed by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement, with whom the UAE has been fighting the war in Yemen as part of a Saudi-led military coalition seeking to restore government. government was overthrown.
The sources said the intercept agreement was reached in mid-summer, around a time when the US and Israel are pushing for Arab nations to link up their air defenses to better defend against air attacks. Iranian drones and missiles.
Reuters reported in July that the proposal was met with resistance from several Arab countries with which Israel has no relations, although an Israeli official said partner countries were synchronizing the system. through remote electronic communication.
Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the President of the UAE, told reporters in July that the UAE would look at anything that could protect the country from drones and missiles as long as it was defensive. defensive and not aimed at third countries.
The Gulf state of Bahrain also established relations with Israel in 2020 and subsequently signed a security agreement. Israel and the UAE this year signed a free trade agreement; Israel first with an Arab country. Negotiations with Bahrain began this week.