Following the announcement of the historic peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, a Yediot Achranot report said that the agreement includes the US sale of F-35 jets to the UAE.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to the report by firmly denying that the US sale of F-35 jets was a condition of the agreement and expressed his opposition to such a sale several times. “Complete lies,” the Prime Minister’s Office stated. “The prime minister hasn’t received such a request in recent years, and if he had received such a request, the prime minister would not have approved it.”
So another Yediot Achranot report on Tuesday that Israel’s Mossad actually supports the sale of advanced weapons to the UAE comes as a surprise. According to the report, the Mossad is pressuring the Israeli government to approve the arms deal while the Defense Ministry remains opposed to it.
Apparently, the conflict between the Mossad and the Defense Ministry is nothing new. Israel and the UAE have been in unofficial contact for years, and according to the report, the Mossad, with Netanyahu’s approval, has been pressuring the Defense Ministry to approve the sale of advanced weapons to the UAE for over two years, including classified munitions and advanced technological tools such as the Pegasus spyware.
The Defense Ministry has raised concerns that the sale of advanced weapons to Gulf states could lead to knowledge leaking to Iran, which has a significant intelligence apparatus in the Gulf states but eventually conceded to the Mossad.
Israel has actually been selling weapons to the UAE for eight years, following the Mossad’s assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. Due to the diplomatic crisis caused by the Mossad agents using forged foreign passports to carry out the elimination on UAE soil, Israel began selling weapons to them for the purpose of restoring relations.
Meanwhile, Settlement Affairs Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said on Tuesday that Israel opposes the sale of “even one screw” of F-35 advanced jets to the United Arab Emirates or any country in the Middle East.
“We oppose the sale of even one screw of one plane of the stealth fighters to any country in the Middle East, whether we have a peace agreement with them or not,” Hanegbi said.
Although Netanyahu’s denial of the fact that a US arms deal between the US and the UAE was part of the peace agreement is likely true, it doesn’t preclude the fact that the US, from its own perspective, may be considering selling the F-35s to the UAE as a corollary of the peace agreement.
US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner said in an interview with CNN on Sunday that the peace agreement between Israel and the UAE “should increase the probability” of the US sale of F-35 jets to the Gulf state.
However, according to Hanegbi, who confirmed that F-35 sale was not an official part of the Israel-UAE agreement but the two are connected, if the US does sell the F-35s to the UAE, it will still ensure that Israel maintains its Israel’s qualitative [military] edge [QME].
“This issue [of an arms deal] did not come up in regard to the agreement between Israel and the UAE,” Hanegbi said.
“The UAE has been asking [for the F-35] for six years, and maybe some estimate — maybe the president estimates — that [the peace agreement] will make it easier to sell these planes if they can say that now there’s peace between Israel and the UAE,” he said.
Pompeo addressed this concern on his visit to Jerusalem on Monday. “The United States has a legal requirement with respect to [Israel’s] qualitative military edge we will continue to honor,” Pompeo said. “But we have a 20-plus year security relationship with the United Arab Emirates as well,” Pompeo said, adding that the US will ensure “we’re delivering the equipment [the UAE] needs to defend their own people from this same threat [of Iran].”
“I’m confident that both of these objectives can be achieved,” Pompeo asserted, referring to maintaining Israel’s military edge in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, the UAE canceled a scheduled trilateral meeting in New York on Friday with the UN envoys of Israel, the US and the UAE due to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s remarks against the US sale of F-35 jets to the UAE.
The UAE canceled the meeting to send a message to the Israeli prime minister and express their disappointment in his remarks, the report said. Furthermore, the UAE will not hold any further meetings with Israeli until Netanyahu’s position is “clarified.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)