UTV

UAE halts military purchase from Israel amid political crisis facing Netanyahu

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reportedly halted the purchase of advanced surface-to-air missile system from Israel amid political turmoil facing embattled prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as anti-Palestinian remarks by two extremist Israeli ministers.

The Arabic-language Arabi21 online newspaper, citing a report by Israel’s Channel 12 television channel, said the UAE’s decision came in response to recent actions and statements by Israel’s so-called national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and finance minister Bezalel Smotrich.

The channel quoted Israeli sources as saying that the UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has announced the freeze on the deal.

“As long as we do not receive assurances that [Israeli prime minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is able to control his administration, we cannot undertake common projects,” Al Nahyan said.

Protests have been snowballing in the occupied territories over the past two months since Netanyahu’s controversial move to reform the judiciary.

Back on September 22 last year, Reuters cited two sources as saying that Israel had approved a UAE request and would supply the Persian Gulf state with Rafael-made SPYDER mobile interceptors.

A third source said the UAE had acquired Israeli technology capable of combating drone attacks like those that struck Abu Dhabi earlier that year.

It was not clear how many interceptors, which are fitted to vehicles and can defend against short to long-range threats, would be supplied, or if any had already been shipped.

Back in 2020, the UAE and Bahrain signed US-brokered agreements with Israel to normalize their ties with the regime. Some other Arab states, namely Sudan and Morocco, followed suit soon afterward.

The normalization deals have sparked widespread condemnations from the Palestinians as well as nations and human rights advocates across the globe, especially within the Muslim world.

Palestinians regard ministers of the new Israeli cabinet, especially Ben-Gvir and Smotrich, as racist and fascist for publicly advocating the expulsion of Palestinians and the demolition of their homes, supporting Israeli extremist groups repeatedly attacking Palestinians, and stirring incitement to racism against Arabs and non-Jews.

Earlier this month, Smotrich caused an uproar when he said the Palestinian town of Huwwara, south of Nablus, should be “wiped out.”

“I think the village of Huwwara needs to be wiped out. I think Israel should do it,” he was quoted as saying by Israeli media outlets on March 1.

Smotrich’s remarks were met with condemnations from the European Union and many countries around the world as incitement of violence and terrorism.

The office of the European Union Representative in al-Quds condemned the remarks as “unacceptable,” saying, “They incite to indiscriminate violence in a situation which is already extremely tense.”

On March 6, Ben-Gvir ordered Israeli forces to press ahead with the demolition of Palestinian homes that have purportedly been built “without permits” in occupied East al-Quds during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

According to the Israeli public broadcaster KAN, the announcement came despite the fact that the occupying regime has not carried out home demolitions during Ramadan in the past years in order to avoid tensions with Palestinians and their subsequent retaliatory operations.

Ramadan, during which Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, is set to start later this month.

The Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth said Israeli police warned Ben-Gvir that the fasting month of Ramadan could be extremely dangerous to implement the measure, as Palestinians are already stretched to the limit amid rising tensions across the occupied West Bank.

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