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Israel won’t participate in Emirati arms fair due to COVID restrictions

Israel has decided not to send a delegation of defense companies to a prestigious arms fair in the United Arab Emirates next week due to coronavirus restrictions that have forced the closure of Israel’s international airport, the Defense Ministry announces.

Dozens of Israeli companies, including state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, had planned on sending delegations to the IDEX arms fair. It was to mark the first time Israel has participated in the gathering, a result of last year’s US-brokered agreement establishing ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

A Krauss-Maffei Wegmann Leopard tank seen at the International Defense Exhibition and Conference, known by the acronym IDEX, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

The Defense Ministry, which oversees weapons exports, says it sought permission to allow the delegation to travel, but a governmental committee that grants exemptions allowing people to fly denied the request.

Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport is closed to nearly all incoming and outgoing flights until February 21, the day the Emirati arms fair is to open. With infection rates in Israel still at high levels, the government may extend the airport closure.

 

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