'We look forward to more states recognizing Israel'

US Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs affirms US is committed to Israel's qualitative military edge in the Middle East.

Nitsan Keidar ,

David Schenker
David Schenker
US State Department

US Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker said on Thursday that the United States is committed to Israel's qualitative military edge in the Middle East and will not take any steps that would harm it.

Speaking at a briefing with reporters, Schenker was asked about the potential sales of F-35s to the United Arab Emirates and replied, “As you know, the US Government is subject to statutory requirements with respect to Israel’s qualitative military edge, and the administration and the U.S. Government will continue to comply with that requirement. At the same time, we have a 20-year-plus security relationship with the Emirates where we provide technical and military assistance, and will continue to maintain and then strengthen that relationship going forward. We share common threats, including those posed by Iran, and we’re deeply committed to ensuring that our allies can protect themselves.”

Schenker said that he believes that additional countries will soon normalize their relations with Israel, as the UAE and Bahrain have already done.

“The State Department and Secretary [Mike] Pompeo, the administration, is very supportive of states taking bold and brave steps to enhance their ties with Israel. We think that there is a positive trajectory in the region, and look forward to more states signing on,” he said.

Commenting on the negotiations on the maritime border between Israel and Lebanon, Schenker noted, “I think it was a positive environment. I think both parties have demonstrated seriousness, but of course this was only the first session. So the hard work lies ahead, but both sides have expressed to me a willingness and a desire to negotiate toward – with an eye toward reaching an agreement. They have expressed seriousness and a desire to be – to engage with flexibility and goodwill going forward.”

“So I don’t want to say ‘optimistic,’ I don’t want to say ‘pessimistic,’ but I think we started off on the right foot and I’m looking forward to hearing this week from Ambassador Desrocher, who will conduct the next two sessions of negotiations with the parties,” he added.