A report has revealed that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) sealed a secretive deal with the Israeli regime a few years ago to acquire advanced surveillance aircraft as Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi move closer to normalization of ties.
According to documents obtained by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the deal involved total payments of about three billion shekels ($846 million).
The documents note that at least part of this sum was paid in cash, linking high-ranking Emirati officials to one of the companies involved in the transaction.
An examination by Haaretz of hundreds of documents and email correspondence leaked from the Appleby law firm show that the UAE’s military sought to acquire two spy planes.
The investigation further revealed that the person behind the supply of the planes is Israeli businessman and entrepreneur Matanya “Mati” Kochavi.
Kochavi, through his business enterprise the Swiss firm AGT International, purchased two executive jets from the Canadian firm Bombardier (serial numbers 9494, 9517) in 2012, for about 43 million euros per plane.
AGT was also responsible for providing a substantial amount of the systems installed in the aircraft.
However, the upgrading itself was done by the British firm Marshall, contracted by AGT, as part of a deal worth almost $100 million.
Surprisingly, Israel’s name is totally absent from the hundreds of thousands of words describing the transaction in detail. The regime is only mentioned in one document originating in Switzerland that describes the structure of AGT. It mentions Kochavi as an Israeli citizen.
The report comes as The Wall Street Journal disclosed earlier this year that Saudi Arabia and the UAE regularly exchange intelligence with the Israeli regime about what they allege as threats from Iran.
Israel’s trade with the Persian Gulf states is estimated to stand at around $1 billion annually, according to a study published by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change last August.
Jamal al-Suwaidi, founder of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, told the British newspaper The Guardian in an interview in March that the Palestinian issue is no longer at the top of the agenda in the Persian Gulf states.
“The Palestinian cause is no longer at the forefront of Arabs’ interests, as it used to be for long decades,” he said. “It has sharply lost priority in light of the challenges, threats and problems that face countries of the region.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz told a ministers’ meeting in Jerusalem al-Quds on August 6 that he was working toward “transparent normalization and signed agreements” with a number of Persian Gulf littoral states.
He added that he recently met with a “high ranking persona” from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to improve ties between Israel and Arab states.
The top Israeli diplomat further noted that the two reached “substantial agreements.”
“We do not have a conflict with them (Arab states),” Katz commented.
Katz visited the Emirati capital city of Abu Dhabi on June 30 for a UN environmental conference, where he discussed cooperation against Iran, as well as economic and transport collaboration, Israeli i24NEWS television news network reported.
On October 26 last year, Israeli culture and sports minister Miri Regev had also traveled to the UAE to accompany Israel’s judo team at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam 2018.
Her visit to the UAE marked the first of its kind by an Israeli minister to a Persian Gulf littoral state.
The president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said last December that the then chief of staff of the Israeli military, Gadi Eisenkot, had secretly traveled twice to the UAE a month earlier, and had met with senior officials there.
Mort Fridman further noted that an agreement on the sale of Israeli military hardware to the UAE was struck during the meeting.
Earlier this year, the Israeli regime re-launched a “virtual embassy” in a bid to “promote dialogue” with the Persian Gulf Arab states.
Arab countries — except for Jordan and Egypt — have no formal relations with the Israeli regime.