The Trump administration is moving forward with plans to sell the F-35 stealth fighter jet to the United Arab Emirates over the objections of Israel.
Administration officials have given the UAE military a classified briefing about the F-35, The New York Times reported.
In the days since a peace agreement between Israel and the UAE was announced by President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has continued to deny that he agreed to allow the UAE to obtain the fighter jet as part of the agreement, which also sees Israel suspending the annexation of parts of the West Bank — temporarily at least.
It is likely, however, that the United States promised the jets to the UAE to encourage the Emiratis to accept the agreement.
Preserving Israel’s qualitative military edge over its Arab neighbors in the region is enshrined in law in the United States. Congress would have to approve such a sale.
Israel already has F-35s in service. The first two arrived in Israel in late 2016. Israel has ordered a total of 50 of the $100 million (around £76,4m) planes from the Lockheed Martin company, with delivery to be completed by December 2024.
Asked at a White House news conference Wednesday about Emirati interest in the planes, Trump said “they’d like to buy F-35s; we’ll see what happens. It’s under review, but they made a great — a great advance in peace in the Middle East.
“Look, they’ve definitely got the money to pay for it.