Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s top foreign policy adviser said on Wednesday the campaign was concerned about the Trump administration’s plans to sell stealth combat aircraft to the United Arab Emirates.
We “have concerns about what commitments may or may not have been made to the UAE with regard to the F-35,” Anthony Blinken said on a press call with Jewish media, according to JTA.
Blinken, who served as deputy national security adviser under President Barack Obama, noted that the Obama administration’s decision to sell stealth fighters to Israel aimed at ensuring the country’s military preeminence in the Middle East.
“The Obama-Biden administration made sure that our most advanced fighter plane would be available to Israel, but only to Israel in the Middle East, because we wanted to make sure that Israel was able to preserve its qualitative military advantage, and we have provided for the sale of some number of F-35s during our administration,” he said.
“And so reports that the administration has committed to provide these planes to the UAE is something we would look at very, very carefully, and make sure that the QME is preserved and also very important that Congress play a role,” added Blinken.
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.
Last week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced that Israel would not oppose a US sale of advanced weapons systems to the United Arab Emirates.
Trump administration officials have sought to reassure Israeli leaders that any sale of F-35s will not harm Israel’s qualitative military edge. Last week, Gantz visited Washington where he met with US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and signed a deal that ensures Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region.
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.
Democrats in Congress have advanced legislation that would give Israel a say in arms sales to other countries in the Middle East, citing Israeli concerns about the proposed sale to UAE.
Blinken in his remarks on Wednesday lauded the Israel-UAE normalization agreement that was coincident with the proposed sale of the jets.
Biden “was very clear that having Arab countries recognize Israel, normalized with Israel, is a positive step that we should support and applaud,” he said.