Netanyahu calls reported US F-35 sales to UAE ‘fake news’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calling reports that the United States is planning to sell F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates “fake news.”
Israeli media on Tuesday first reported the sale, which would be included in the agreement to normalize relations between Israel and the UAE. A so-called secret clause in the deal would reportedly allow the Gulf nation to buy billions of dollars in U.S. military equipment, including the F-35 and drones.
Sources told Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that UAE Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan allowed the agreement on the condition that the sale would happen.
But Netanyahu said Israel would oppose such a deal, as the Israeli military must maintain superiority in the region.
The peace agreement “did not include Israel’s consent to any arms deal whatsoever between the United States and the UAE,” according to a statement from Netanyahu’s office.
“The U.S. made clear to Israel that it will always ensure to protect Israel’s qualitative edge.”
Asked about reports of the sale on Wednesday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that the Trump administration won’t “confirm or comment on proposed defense sales or transfers until they are formally notified to Congress.”
The United States since the 1970s does not sell Middle East countries advanced military equipment that could take away from Israel’s “qualitative edge.”
Israel is currently the only country in the region to possess the fifth-generation fighter.
However, after the formal U.S.-brokered peace agreement reached last week that made the UAE the first Arab nation to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a state since the 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty, the Trump administration has signaled that Abu Dhabi could gain unspecified new U.S. arms sales.
News of the potential weapons sale has reportedly taken Washington by surprise.
Two State Department officials that handle U.S. foreign arms sales told CNN that they were unaware of such a sale. And aides from relevant congressional committees said they have not been notified about such a deal.