The United States will ensure Israel retains a military advantage in the Middle East under any future U.S. arms deals with the United Arab Emirates, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday.
“The United States has a legal requirement with respect to the qualitative military edge,” Pompeo told reporters after a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “We will continue to honor that.”
Netanyahu said he had been reassured on the issue by Pompeo, who began a Middle East visit in Jerusalem that will showcase U.S. support for Israeli-Arab peace efforts and building a front against Iran.
“The United States stood by that commitment, and I know—have no doubt that it will continue to do so,” Netanyahu said at the press briefing after the meeting with Pompeo.
A U.S.-brokered deal on normalizing relations between Israel and the UAE was announced on Aug. 13. But there has been some dissent in Israel over the prospect of the Gulf power now obtaining advanced U.S. weaponry such as the F-35 warplane.
Speaking on CNN on Saturday, senior White House adviser Jared Kushner said the UAE had been trying to get the F-35 for a long time.
“This new peace agreement should increase the probability of them getting it. But its something were reviewing,” he said.
Pompeo said Washington for more than 20 years had provided the UAE with military support needed to stave off shared threats from Iran—also Israels arch-foe.
The United States will, however, review the arms sale to ensure that the U.S. commitment to Israel is preserved and its military relationship the UAE will secure and defend the country against Iran, Pompeo said, adding that “both of these objectives can be achieved.”
Netanyahu praised President Donald Trump and his administration for brokering the Israeli-UAE peace agreement and said that the deal does not include any arms deal.
The agreement “has been a boon to peace and to regional stability. I think it heralds a new era where we could have other nations join,” Netanyahu said.
The Palestinians warned the Trump administration against trying to sideline them in the Middle East
“Recruiting Arabs to recognize Israel and open embassies does not make Israel a winner,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said in an interview with Reuters. “You are putting the whole region in a lose-lose situation because you are designing the road for a forever conflict in the region.”
The Israeli-UAE peace agreement was announced on Aug.13 and has been applauded by world leaders.
Per a request from Trump, Israel has suspended declaring sovereignty over certain areas, including the West Bank, and has focused on expanding ties to other countries in the Arab and Muslim world.
“After 49 years, Israel and the United Arab Emirates will fully normalize their diplomatic relations,” Trump said. “They will exchange embassies and ambassadors, and begin cooperation across the board and on a broad range of areas, including tourism, education, healthcare, trade, and security.”