The Israeli delegation from the country's defense industries does not look like it will be able to participate in next week's International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi. Hundreds of employees from 40 Israeli companies were due to fly on five Arkia Airlines Ltd. flights to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the coming days. But the exemptions committee set up due to the Covid-19 pandemic, headed by Minister of Regional Cooperation Ofir Akunis, which grants Israelis a permit to fly abroad, has refused the request by the Ministry of Defense to allow the flights.
The Ministry of Defense said, "Following the signing of the Abraham Accords the Ministry of Defense decided to take part for the first time in the Abu Dhabi defense exhibition with a delegation of dozens of people from the defense industries. Several days ago the Ministry of Defense contacted the exemptions committee of the Israeli government headed by the Minister for Regional Cooperation to receive approval to leave the country during the lockdown and was refused."
IDEX is one of the world's largest defense exhibitions and this is the first time that Israel has been invited to participate.
The Prime Minister's Office and Ministry of Defense in cooperation with the Ministry of Health are discussing ways of finding a compromise solution that will allow representatives of Israeli defense companies to attend the event. One possibility is allowing people who have been vaccinated or have recovered from the virus to travel to Abu Dhabi as well as those who have a negative test from 48 hours before the flight.
Other options include shortening the stay in Abu Dhabi, restricting movement of Israelis while in the UAE and use of testing and compulsory isolation on return to Israel.
The Israeli delegation had been hoping to take an active part in IDEX and sign major deals at the exhibition, which will be attended by representatives from dozens of countries. Government-owned companies Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. are planning to set up a special pavilion to display a broad range of their systems with an emphasis on space technology, civil aviation, unmanned aerial vehicles and more.
An Israeli delegation from defense companies was recently granted a special exemption to attend an event in Bangalore in India but so far the Abu Dhabi delegation is being denied such an exemption.
Other Israeli companies planning to exhibit at IDEX in the Israeli pavilion include Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT), ECI Telecom Ltd., Aeronautics and NSO.
Arkia International CEO Oz Berlowitz told "Globes," "The company has proposed health alternatives including sending only those representatives that have undergone a second vaccination with passengers committed to taking Covid tests on departure and return."
Berlowitz said that Arkia is even prepared to guarantee the isolation of the exhibition's participants after they return to Israel. Several dozen employees of Israeli companies have been given permission to fly to the UAE and Arkia wants to fly them out tomorrow so that at least they can attend the exhibition and represent Israel.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 15, 2021
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