'Israel must maintain a qualitative military edge'

US Rep. Brad Schneider: There's bipartisan consensus in Washington, Israel's security concerns are a top priority on Capitol Hill.

Elad Benari ,

Rep. Brad Schneider
Rep. Brad Schneider

US Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) told i24NEWS on Tuesday that bipartisan consensus in Washington will ensure Israel will maintain its qualitative military edge in the Middle East and insisted the Jewish state's security concerns are a top priority on Capitol Hill.

During the interview, the Jewish lawmaker was pressed about a new bill he introduced to Congress that seeks to enshrine the policy into law after numerous media outlets reported that the US is preparing to sell highly advanced F-35 fighter jets to the UAE.

"Given the historic agreement with the UAE, with Bahrain, and subsequent discussions of the UAE and potentially others acquiring the most advanced military fighter on the planet, the F-35, we feel it's important to reiterate this and show that Congress' position is very clear: Israel must retain maintain a qualitative military edge," replied Schneider.

Schneider noted that although the bill still has a few hurdles to overcome in the House and Senate chambers, he was confident that the legislation could move forward given the longstanding position "of the United States, the [Trump] administration, and the Congress" regarding Israel.

The recently signed Abraham Accords officially normalize relations between Israel and its Gulf Arab neighbors, the UAE and Bahrain.

In the wake of the agreement, the Trump administration has accelerated a push to sell the F-35 stealth fighter and advanced armed drones to the United Arab Emirates.

After news of the arms sale became public, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu repeatedly denied that he had given assurances to the Trump administration that Israel would not oppose the Emirati arms deal.

A subsequent New York Times report quoted officials who said that Netanyahu privately went along with the plan for the Trump administration to sell advanced weapons to the United Arab Emirates, despite publicly saying later that he opposed the arms deal.

US lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have expressed concern over the potential sale of F-35 jets to the UAE and vowed to ensure that Israel can maintain its qualitative military edge.

In Tuesday’s interview with i24NEWS, Schneider was pressed on how, if elected, a Joe Biden administration would approach its foreign policy agenda regarding Israel, and if Israeli citizens could be assured that it would not stray dramatically from the policies of the Trump presidency, which enjoys overwhelming support among the population.

"Israel has never had a better friend than Joe Biden... he understands that Israel is the most important ally the US has in the region or maybe the world. I have no doubt about this because I've talked to him about this... his record supports this," the lawmaker replied.

Schneider continued by noting that the overwhelmingly majority of people in the Democratic party, like the Republican party, supports Israel and the US-Israel relationship.

"We're at a moment in time where politics are seen as where divisive, I would say that's an understatement... but it's important for Israel to maintain bipartisan support" in Washington, he added.

Asked about the more vocal, left-leaning elements of the Democratic party that have expressed support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, Schneider replied, "I've said it to them and I've said it in public – they're wrong.”

"The US-Israel relationship doesn't just benefit Israel it benefits the US. The condemnation of anti-Semitism isn't a just matter of anti-Semitism and protecting Jews, it’s a matter of fighting bigotry, racism, xenophobia in all forms," he added.