Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced on Friday that Israel would not oppose a US sale of advanced weapons systems to the United Arab Emirates, an apparent reference to F-35 fighter jets.
"The Prime Minister and the Defense Minister both agree that since the US is upgrading Israel's military capability and maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge, Israel will not oppose the sale of these systems to the UAE," they said in a joint statement.
The statement came after Gantz returned from a visit to Washington, where he met with US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and signed a deal that ensures Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region.
Meanwhile, in a separate statement issued by Gantz’s office on Friday, the Defense Minister accused Netanyahu of concealing the negotiations on the sale of F-35s to the UAE from the defense establishment.
"After the signing of the peace agreement with the UAE, it was revealed to the Defense Minister that at the same time negotiations were underway for the sale of advanced weapons, something that was known to Israeli officials involved in the negotiations - but was hidden from the defense establishment," the statement said.
"The Minister of Defense considers achieving peace and regional stability to be of paramount strategic value, and therefore from the moment the agreement was signed he led a determined and independent action with the US administration to ensure the agreement is fulfilled while maintaining the security of the State of Israel, maintaining its qualitative advantage and strengthening the IDF for decades to come,” it added.
Netanyahu then responded to Gantz's accusations and said that there is nothing new in the fact that the UAE is asking for the F-35s. He stressed that there was no stipulation that Israel would agree to this as a condition of the agreement to normalize ties.
In the wake of the agreement between Israel and the UAE, the Trump administration has accelerated a push to sell the F-35 stealth fighter and advanced armed drones to the UAE.
After news of the arms sale became public, 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.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)