Arab countries that established diplomatic relations with Israel under the Abraham Accords contributed to approximately 25% of Israel’s all-time high of $12.5 billion in defence exports in 2022. This reflects the strengthening of economic and defence bonds between the nations.
Last year’s defence exports marked a 50% increase from the preceding three years and a two-fold surge in volume over the previous decade, as per Israel’s defence ministry. Drones constituted 25% of the 2022 exports, while missiles, rockets, or air defence systems represented 19%, according to Reuters.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Morocco, and Bahrain formalized relations with Israel in 2020 under the US-backed Abraham Accords. Since then, the countries have taken steps to solidify their defense ties. Israel sent a high-ranking navy officer to Bahrain last year, and satellite images revealed that the UAE has deployed Israeli Barak aerial defense systems.
On Friday, Israel’s top envoy to Morocco announced that Elbit Systems, a leading Israeli defense technology company, will open two sites in Morocco. This announcement came after a report that Israel is considering recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara territory.
Despite recent tensions in the occupied West Bank and reluctance from Arab states to join the US and Israeli-backed defense group known as the “Middle East NATO,” the arms trade boom highlights the progression of defense and commercial ties between Israel and Arab states.
Gulf states like the UAE have been cautious about openly embracing military ties with Israel that might be seen as targeting their mutual adversary, Iran. Tensions in the region have escalated, with a senior Israeli military commander warning of an unprecedented likelihood of large-scale war.