JERUSALEM, Israel – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that Israel does not oppose the US sale of F-35 stealth warplanes to the United Arab Emirates.
The expected sale would make the UAE the second Middle Eastern country after Israel to have the fighter jets. However, Netanyahu said during the press conference that he received “assurance of Israel’s qualitative military advantage and the assurance of Israel’s military supremacy in the region.”
The prime minister denied accusations by Defense Minister Benny Gantz that he secretly held negotiations about the expected sale without notifying key defense officials. Netanyahu claimed the topic of F-35s arose after Israel has already signed its treaty with the UAE at the White House last month.
“There were no such negotiations,” Netanyahu claimed. “Neither was there any condition by the UAE to Israel's consenting to the sale of F-35s or any other weapons system, as a condition for the peace agreement.”
Last week, Gantz reached an agreement in Washington with US Defense Secretary Mark Esper that will upgrade Israel’s military capabilities.
“Since the US is upgrading Israel’s military capability and is maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge, Israel will not oppose the sale of these systems to the UAE,” Gantz and Netanyahu said in a joint statement.
When asked about the expected sale of F-35s to the UAE, US President Donald Trump said the “process is moving along.”
“We’ve never had a dispute with UAE; they’ve always been on our side. And that process is moving along – I think hopefully rapidly,” Trump said.
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