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Israel opposes any F-35 sale to UAE despite their warming ties

Tel Aviv-Yafo: Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday told reporters that Israel must not risk its security interests as part of a normalisation agreement with the United Arab Emirates, announced last week by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump.

"We must not take any security risks. At the same time I repeatedly tell you that we should promote this agreement," Gantz told reporters in his Tel Aviv office, shortly after he left Israeli hospital where he recovered from a back surgery. Gantz's comments followed a report in Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that the Trump administration planned a "giant" sale of advanced F-35 jets to United Arab Emirates as part of the Gulf country's move last week to normalise ties with Israel.
A statement from Netanyahu's office earlier on Tuesday said that Israel has not softened its opposition to any U.S. arms sales to the United Arab Emirates that could diminish its military superiority as part of the U.S.-brokered normalisation of their ties. The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem and representatives of the UAE government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Under understandings dating back decades, Washington has refrained from Middle East arms sales that could blunt Israel's "qualitative military edge" (QME). This has applied to the F-35, denied to Arab states, while Israel has bought and deployed it.
The Trump administration has signalled that UAE could clinch unspecified new U.S. arms sales after last Thursday's (August 13) normalisation announcement.
Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen, an observer in Netanyahu's security cabinet, said the decision-making forum had held no discussion about any changes to QME policy and that Israel had not agreed to any changes by the United States.

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