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      Is the US Eroding Israel's Qualitative Edge?

      America has approved $10 billion in new arms sales to Arab states while rejecting Israeli requests for advanced weapons.
      By Avi Yellin
      First Publish: 3/23/2010, 12:31 AM / Last Update: 3/24/2010, 10:33 PM

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      The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) revealed in a January report that was updated recently that the government of Israel has been concealing a change in arms policy by the United States against the Jewish state. The Institute further stated that the Likud-led government of Binyamin Netanyahu has also refrained from protesting massive American weapons sales to Arab states in the region, an initiative that has eroded Israel’s military edge over its neighbors.

      The Institute reports that over the last year, the Obama administration has refused to approve any major Israeli weapons requests. Government sources asserted that the refusal represents a new White House policy to link arms sales to the Jewish state with the Netanyahu government’s willingness to submit on Washington’s demands that Israel surrender Judea, Samaria and most of Jerusalem to the American-backed Palestinian Authority.

      Key weapons denied
      The report revealed that the White House has so far blocked key weapons projects and upgrades for Israel, rejecting requests for AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters while approving advanced F-16 multi-role fighters for Egypt. Israel has meanwhile refrained from objecting to American plans to sell F-16s, Harpoon Block 2 anti-ship missiles, Hellfire air-to-ground missiles, fast attack craft and helicopters to the Egyptians. In addition to the advanced weapons sold to Egypt, Washington has also approved more than $10 billion worth of arms sales to Arab League states, including Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

      “Indeed, Israel’s request for six AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters was blocked by the Obama Administration in June — the same time the Egyptian sale was approved,” the JINSA report stated.

      According to the report, the failure to sponsor Israel’s qualitative edge, which violates a pledge given more than 40 years ago to maintain Israel’s military superiority over its neighbors, began not with Obama but under the previous administration of President George W. Bush. “The concept of the Qualitative Military Edge failed to keep up with the changes in U.S. arms sales and training policy over the decades.” Israel has to now stay ahead through other means.

      Shift in 2004
      A major U.S. policy shift came in 2004, when the Bush Administration needed Gulf Arab help for the American-led invasion of Iraq – particularly after Turkey denied Bush entrance into Iraq from the north – and wanted to bolster Washington’s influence and ability to deal with regional problems.

      JINSA dismissed Israeli government claims that the White House was ready to address the erosion of Israel’s defensive capabilities. The Institute said the January 2010 visit by U.S. National Security Advisor James Jones did not concern the Washington's pledge to Israel’s qualitative military edge but was to push Israel into making further concessions to the Fatah-led PA.

      According to the report, the U.S. aid to Arab states has hampered Israeli military cooperation with Washington. More than 20 years ago, the Israel Air Force stopped participating in American sponsored regional exercises in order to prevent the leakage of combat tactics.