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Arab states make up 24% of Israel’s 2022 arms exports including drones

Out of the record-high $12.5 billion in Israeli defense exports in 2022, almost $3 billion were export deals with Arab countries.
Israel drone

Nearly three years after the signing of the Abraham Accords, normalizing Israel’s relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, Israel’s defense industry exports in 2022 reached $12.5 billion, the highest since the establishment of the state of Israel 75 years ago, including nearly a quarter with Arab states.

A trade report published by the Defense Ministry on Wednesday revealed that out of the overall exports, close to $3 billion came from trade with Arab countries. In the previous record year of 2021, Bahrain and the UAE accounted for $853 million out of Israel’s $11.4 billion arms export. The data was presented by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to leaders of Israel's defense industries at the Defense Ministry's headquarters in Tel Aviv. 

The ministry did not publish details on the different deals reached with Arab states or the extent of defense export to each of the Abraham Accords nations. 

According to the report, exports have more than doubled since 2014, and jumped by 50% in just the last three years. Drones constituted 25% of the 2022 exports, while missiles, rockets, or air defense systems represented 19%.

The report noted that global and regional conflicts around the world have contributed to the rise, as did the fighting in Ukraine. The high quality of Israeli defense products was also cited as a reason. 

Reuters reported last September that Israel agreed to sell to the Emirates the Spyder portable aerial defense systems, manufactured by the Israeli-based Rafael company. The two countries signed a free trade zone agreement last May. 

Israel’s then-Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited Bahrain in 2022, signing an agreement on security cooperation, but little has been published since then on defense deals between the two countries.

Gantz visited Morocco in 2021, signing a first-ever security cooperation agreement with an Arab state. Among other things, the agreement included a commitment to promote weapons deals. A report by i24, published in July 2022 while IDF Chief of staff Aviv Kochavi visited Rabat, revealed that Morocco has agreed to purchase Israeli Harop kamikaze drones, in a $22 million deal.  

Last Friday, acting Ambassador to Morocco Shai Cohen revealed that the leading Israeli defense technology company Elbit Systems will open two production sites in Morocco. This announcement came after a report that Israel is considering recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara territory. Elbit did not confirm the report.

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