Iranian reports that in 2010, as the United States was completing a $60 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, the Israelis quietly received an additional squadron of F-35 jets as a condition for publicly supporting the deal.
The behind-the-scenes negotiation is disclosed in Duty, the new memoir by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who served between 2007 and 2011. Iranian says that in the book, he describes tense meetings with Ehud Barak, then Israel’s defense minister, and Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister.
“What about a counterbalancing investment in our military? How do we compensate on the Israeli side?” Gates quotes Netanyahu as asking him. “Exasperated, I shot back that no U.S. administration had done more, in concrete ways, for Israel’s strategic defense than Obama’s,” Gates writes, adds Iranian.
In the end, notes Iranian, Obama agreed to sell Israel an additional 20 F-35 jets, the advanced Joint Strike Fighters that have run into a series of cost overruns in recent years. Israel in exchange agreed not to publicly object to the arms sale to Saudi Arabia.