Israel ‘very comfortable’ with US sale of F-35 jets to UAE, ambassador says

The Israeli ambassador to the US has said Israel is “very comfortable” with Washington selling up to 50 F-35 fighter jets to the UAE as part of a $23 billion arms deal. Legislation is being tabled in US Congress to block it.

“What keeps me up at night is not the proposed F-35 sale to the Emirates. What keeps me up at night is the idea that someone would return to the nuclear deal with Iran,” Ron Dermer told MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

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Dermer appeared alongside Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE envoy to the US, in what was the pair’s first joint TV interview since relations were normalized between the two countries in the summer with the signing of the Abraham Accords, overseen by US President Donald Trump. 

Asked about the UAE arms deal, which also includes munitions and Reaper drones, Dermer confirmed that it had the backing of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and other senior officials.

He added that the arms package would “not violate” US commitment to Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME) – the US policy of helping Israel stay suitably armed in order to deter regional threats. 

Previously, the Israeli government has been more guarded in its tone when commenting on the arms deal, stating in October that it would “not oppose” the US sale of “specific weapons systems” to the UAE.

US Congress is set to vote this week on four separate pieces of legislation to block the arms sale, although the head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency Heidi Grant said a deal is “possible” before the next presidential inauguration on January 20. 

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Some lawmakers, like Republican Senator Marco Rubio, have said that the deal could undermine Israel’s QME, while presumed President-Elect Joe Biden’s own foreign policy adviser Tony Blinken has said that the sale of F-35s in the Middle East was supposed to be to “Israel and only Israel.”

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Source:RT World News

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