TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Before publicly opposing the sale of advanced weapons to the United Arab Emirates by the US last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had secretly agreed to the arms deal amid a normalization push with Abu Dhabi, a report said.
In August, the White House announced a so-called “peace deal” between Israel and the UAE, with the two agreeing to establish official diplomatic relations and cooperate on economic and security initiatives.
After initial reports that Israel had agreed to the sale of advanced weapon systems to the UAE, including F-35 fighter jets, Netanyahu was quick to stress that his cabinet will “always” work with Washington to preserve what he described as “Israeli military superiority in the region”.
UAE officials had hoped that after normalizing relations with Israel, their new allies would not be concerned about Abu Dhabi’s military capabilities. Top Emirati diplomat Anwar Gargash told the Atlantic Council last month that acquiring the F-35 jets was a “legitimate” move by Abu Dhabi.
“This is something on the table. We have legitimate requests that are there. We ought to get them… Now the whole idea of, you know, the state of belligerency or war with Israel will no longer exist, so I think it should be … easier,” Gargash said.
Giving a green light to the arms deal would be politically costly for Netanyahu, who is facing domestic issues, including protests over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Benny Gantz, Israel’s defense minister and Netanyahu’s chief political rival, had slammed the idea of allowing the UAE to buy F-35 jets. “It is forbidden to take security risks,” he said last month.
The Lockheed Martin-produced F-35 is one of the most powerful warplanes in the world, with the ability to evade radars, conduct strikes on targets on the ground and engage in air combat.
According to the New York Times report, the held-up UAE arms deal with the US also includes combat drones and EA-18G Growler aircraft, which has the ability to disable enemy radars and radio systems.