US intends to sell F-35 fighter jets to UAE, Israeli Defense Minister flies to Washington
Windowofworld.com – Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz is scheduled to travel to Washington, DC, Tuesday (9/22/2020) for a series of meetings with United States Secretary of Defense Mark Asper and other senior Pentagon officials. Gantz’s journey was made when America wanted to sell its F-35 stealth fighter jets to the Arab Emrat Union (UAE).
Israel’s Defense Ministry said the talks were expected to focus on the Jewish state’s stance on the sale of the F-35 to Abu Dhabi, which some fear could jeopardize the regional Israeli military superiority Washington has promised to uphold.
Under US law, Congress is tasked with examining arms sales to Middle Eastern countries against the rubric of maintaining Israel’s qualitative military advantage, decisions usually made in consultation between the Pentagon and Israeli defense officials. While Israel cannot veto the sale, it could pose a hurdle to make the deal more difficult and protracted.
Gantz initially expressed concern about the UAE acquiring the fighter jets, despite a recent normalization agreement between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi.
Last week, he appeared to soften the tone of his objection and said Israel’s objections would have little effect.
“It is America’s prerogative — not Israel’s prerogative — to decide who to sell (the F-35) to,” Gantz said, as quoted by the Times of Israel.
US President Donald Trump said in early September that he had absolutely no problem selling Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighters to the UAE.
Israel openly opposes the US wanting to sell sophisticated weapons to its Middle East rivals on the grounds that the Jewish state needs to maintain its military supremacy.
The UAE, in particular, has wanted the plane for years. The senior Emirati official said they hope all barriers to F-35 sales disappear now that they have established open relations with Israel.
“The whole idea of a state of war or war with Israel is over, so I think it should be easier (to buy an f-35 fighter jet),” said senior UAE official Anwar Gargash in August. “We feel that with the signing of this agreement (normalization of Israel-UAE relations) in the coming weeks or months, any hurdles to this (purchase) should cease to exist.”
Gantz will also discuss joint security cooperation to reduce Iran’s expansion in the region. According to the Israeli Defense Ministry, Gantz will remain in the United States for 24 hours, and return to Israel shortly before dawn on Thursday.