The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has announced that it does not oppose President Donald Trump's $23 billion arms deal with the United Arab Emirates, which the US leader called a crucial partner in the fight against terrorists. The Trump administration approved the deal, which includes F-35 fighter jets and armed drones, early last month following the UAE's normalisation agreement between the Emirates and Israel.
AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Wittman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), "We do not oppose the proposed arms sale to the UAE, given the peace agreement reached between Israel and the UAE as well as the agreement reached between the US and Israel to ensure that Israel's Qualitative Military Edge (QME) will not be adversely impacted by the sale."
Marshall's reply to the JTA comes after one of the most pro-Israel groups in the US, the Jewish Institute for National Security of America, also endorsed the sale.
The arms deal with the UAE includes products from General Atomics, Lockheed Martin Corp and Raytheon Technologies Corp; more than 14,000 bombs and munitions; and the second-largest sale of US drones to a single country.
However, critics said that the administration, in the rush to push the deal through as it brokered the normalisation agreement, provided too little information, not least about the effects on the balance of power in the Middle East. They are also asking what safeguards are in place to ensure that the weapons do not end up in the wrong hands.
Many US lawmakers worry about whether the UAE will use the weapons in attacks against civilians in Yemen. The civil war there, in which the UAE is involved, is considered to be one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters. When the deal was announced, Amnesty International warned that the weapons would be used for "attacks that violate international humanitarian law and kill, as well as injure, thousands of Yemeni civilians."