Israel will not oppose US sale of f-35's to UAE

Joint statement by the PM's Office and Defense

Minsitry says Gantz's trip to Washington secured Israel's QME despite sale of advanced stealth fighter

Israel will not oppose the sale of F-35s to the United Arab Emirates, Jerusalem announced on Friday night.

The joint announcement by the offices of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz came after Gantz returned from Washington where he met with his US counterpart Mark Esper and signed a deal that ensures Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region.

The agreement that was signed between Jerusalem and Washington, the statement said, will enable long-term procurement plans that will provide Israel with advanced weapons systems, “significantly upgrade its military capabilities, fortify Israel’s security and regional military superiority and preserve its qualitative military edge in the coming decades.”

During Gantz’s whirlwind visit, he was informed that Washington plans to notify Congress in the near future of its intention to supply the UAE with “certain weapons systems,” likely the advanced F-35 stealth fighter jet.

Gantz flew to Washington on Wednesday night for a “security meeting” with his US counterpart as well as discussions with other Pentagon officials. It was his second flight to the US Capitol in a month following the normalization of ties with the United Arab Emirates which has made clear that it wants to procure the F-35 stealth fighter jet.

The possible sale has caused an uproar in Israel and though Washington has been selling Abu Dhabi millions in military deals, they have been bound to preserve Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME) in the Middle East before selling any advanced weaponry to regional states.

In another statement released by Gantz’s office, he claimed that Netanyahu knew about the sale of the F-35 to Abu Dhabi during the negotiations but kept it hidden from the defense establishment.

“The Defense Minister considers achieving peace and regional stability a strategic value and therefore led an independent action” with the Trump administration to ensure both the normalization deal with the UAE and Israel’s security, the statement said.

During his visit, the two signed a joint declaration confirming Washington's strategic commitment to maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge in the Middle East and speaking to reporters, a senior defense source said that the document signed was a general commitment and that discussions were ongoing over what Washington will provide Jerusalem to offset the sale of the F-35 to the UAE.

“This is not the end of the story,” said the source, adding that the specifics of “what we are getting and what we aren’t getting and what they’ll sell us later” would be determined in future discussions.

The source confirmed however that the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft that Israel has wanted to procure for several years is once again being considered.