US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, said that the United Arab Emirates, which has recently signed a historic US-sponsored peace deal with Israel, would not receive American F-35 stealth fighter jets for six or seven years.
“The Emiratis have been trying to get the F-35 for six or seven years. And delivery time is probably another six or seven years from now,” the official told the Jerusalem Post in a pre-recorded interview.
Washington has not yet expressed explicit approval of an Emirati purchase of American F-35s. Israeli newspapers reported that the UAE expects such approval after the Gulf Arab country signed a deal normalising its diplomatic relations with Israel, to the dismay of many supporters of Palestinian rights across the world.
Last Tuesday Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz held meetings in Washington with his counterpart Mark Esper and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner. The American and Israeli officials discussed the possibility of the US sale of F-35 stealth fighter jets to the UAE based on the principle of Israel’s military superiority in the region.
Israel is currently the only state in the region that owns F-35s.
US law stipulates that Washington commits itself to Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME), which guarantees the occupation state’s technological military superiority in the Middle East.
When asked about whether a possible sale of American F-35s to the UAE would threaten Israel’s QME, David Friedman said: “QME is a matter of law, not a matter of policy. It has been US law since 2008, and US policy a lot longer than that. Israel has dealt with the QME behind the scenes professionally and successfully for more than a decade; it is going to continue to work this way.”
In the past few years, Israel has received at least 26 F-35s from the United States as part of a deal that will see the state gain possession of 50 stealth fighter jets.
On 13 August, US President Donald Trump announced a peace deal between the UAE and Israel brokered by Washington.
Abu Dhabi said the deal was an effort to stave off Tel Aviv’s planned annexation of the occupied West Bank, however, opponents believe normalisation efforts have been in the offing for many years as Israeli officials have made officialvisits to the UAE and attended conferences in the country which had no diplomatic or other ties with the occupation state.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu however denied this saying annexation is not off the table, but has simply been delayed.
Many have said the real purpose of the deal was to allow the UAE to access superior military strength.