Tuesday, January 19, 2021

FACT CHECK: Has Israel Blocked US Move To Sell Stealth F-35 Jets To The UAE?

There were reports that the US could sell stealth F-35 jets to the UAE and Israel was strongly objecting to the American proposal. However, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has denied that he has agreed to reports of the US selling its F-35 jets to the United Arab Emirates.

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The statement followed a report in Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that the Trump administration planned a “giant” F-35 deal with the UAE as part of the landmark agreement that was reached between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and was brokered by the US.

According to the report in Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth, US President Donald Trump’s administration is set to sell F-35 fighter jets and advanced drones to the UAE in a secret clause that was part of the agreement to establish diplomatic ties between Israel and the Gulf nation.

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The US has usually refrained from selling advanced weapons to Arab countries to maintain Israel’s superiority in the region. Hence, Israel possesses the fifth-generation F-35s, whereas, Washington has not sold it to any country in the Middle East. 

As reported earlier by EurAsian Times, the “Abraham Agreement”, announced by US President Donald Trump, secures an Israeli pledge to halt further annexation of Palestinian lands in the West Bank.

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However, addressing reporters later in Tel Aviv, PM Netanyahu said he agreed to “delay” the annexation as part of the deal with the UAE, but the plans remain “on the table”. Jordan said that the UAE-Israel deal could push forward stalled peace negotiations if it succeeds in prodding Israel to accept a Palestinian state on a land that Israel had occupied in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

Netanyahu has tweeted the story and has called it “utter fake news”. “From the start, the prime minister objected to the sale of F-35 jets and other advanced weapons to any countries in the Middle East, including Arab countries that make peace with Israel,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement, saying the pact doesn’t include any agreement for the reported multi-billion deal to go ahead.

“The prime minister voiced that consistent stance time and again before the American administration, and it hasn’t changed,” the statement said. 

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The report further clarified that “the consistent opposition to the sale of F-35 jets was reinforced on June 2 after the head of the National Security Council [Meir Ben-Shabbat] spoke to Air Force Commander Amikam Norkin, at the prime minister’s request.”

Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, an observer in Netanyahu’s security cabinet noted that even if the F-35 fell into the hands of UAE, “against our wishes”, they are unlikely to pose a danger as the distance between the countries is more than twice the jet’s range without refueling. 

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