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Israeli minister expresses concern over US-Saudi arms deal

The US-Saudi arms deal, worth $350 billion over the next 10 years, will include the sale of military equipment including US-made fighter jets
A US F18 Hornet aircraft is launched off the deck of US aircraft carrier USS George Washington during its mission in the eastern Mediterranean Sea on February 21, 2017 [Murat Kaynak / Anadolu Agency]
A US F18 Hornet aircraft is launched off the deck of US aircraft carrier USS George Washington during its mission in the eastern Mediterranean Sea on February 21, 2017 [Murat Kaynak / Anadolu Agency]

Israel gave a muted response on Sunday to a major arms deal between the United States and Saudi Arabia announced a day earlier during the visit to the region by US President Donald Trump.

This is a matter that really should trouble us

That was the statement by Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz prior to the weekly cabinet meeting, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no mention of the deal in his customary public remarks.

Netanyahu has voiced his wish to improve ties with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states as part of an initiative that would draw the Palestinians into an eventual peace deal and as a broad front against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The agreement, which is worth $350 billion over 10 years and $110 billion that will take effect immediately, was hailed by the White House as “a significant expansion of…[the] security relationship” between the two countries.

Israel has always been wary of maintaining its military edge and Steinitz said he hoped to hear details of the deal. Trump and his entourage touch down in Israel on Monday.

Read: Trump to take first official direct flight from Saudi to Israel

“We have also to make sure that those hundreds of billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia will not, by any means, erode Israel’s qualitative edge, because Saudi Arabia is still a hostile country without any diplomatic relations and nobody knows what the future will be,” he said.

In the 1980s, Israel expressed its concern at a US sale to Saudi Arabia of then-advanced F-15 fighter jets that were stationed at a Red Sea airfield but the desert kingdom has never threatened to use them against Israel.

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Asia & AmericasIsraelMiddle EastNewsSaudi ArabiaUS
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