UAE evades Israel boycott in stalled arms deal

A UAE attempt to buy Israeli drones is “shameful”, a leading BDS activist told Al-Akhbar.

“The UAE establishment was caught several times normalizing relations with Israel, in sports, in diamonds, in retail, and even in academia, but this is by far the worst instance of this shameful normalization,” said Omar Barghouti, Palestinian human rights activist and co-founder of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

Israel’s ministry of defense has allegedly stalled a drone deal between an Israeli aeronautics company and the UAE, the Palestinian Maan News Agency reported, citing a report by the Paris-based journal Intelligence Online last Thursday.

The UAE was set to buy several drones from Aeronautics, an Israeli company specializing in unmanned aerial vehicles, but the Israeli defense ministry refused to give the deal its stamp of approval.

An Israeli business journal reported on January 12 that Aeronautic’s CEO and founder Avi Leumi recently stepped down from his position and is currently looking for his replacement. The company, which is widely known for its drone production, was founded 14 years ago.

Aeronautics is Israel’s fifth-largest defense company and manufactures at least six types of drones, several of which have been used against Palestinians in Israeli attacks in Gaza. A Human Rights Watch report from 2009 detailed how Israeli drones killed at least 29 civilians throughout the year.

“Buying Israeli weapons that are tested on Palestinians and Lebanese civilians is a form of direct complicity in whitewashing Israeli war crimes,” said Barghouti.

In July 2011, the BDS campaign called for a comprehensive military embargo on Israel, which would include a total ban on the purchasing of Israeli arms.

The UAE has increasingly set out to boost its arsenal and its recent attempt to purchase from Israel highlights the small country’s growing military power. In 2010, the UAE was considered “the largest foreign purchaser of US defense equipment,” according to a US Pentagon report.

“The UAE government is actively sabotaging the growing isolation of Israel around the world and considerably undermining the Arab boycott of Israel to which the UAE ostensibly subscribes,” Barghouti added.

(Al-Akhbar, Maan News Agency)

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