Israel agrees to U.S. sale of F-35s to UAE

WASHINGTON, D.C. /  ABU DHABI — After years of opposition from Israel about U.S. plans to sell advanced F-35 warplanes to other countries in the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued a joint statement announcing Israel’s acceptance of the sale of the F-35 to the United Arab Emirates.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump informed Congress on Thursday that it was moving forward with the sale of 50 F-35s to the U.A.E.

The U.S. and U.A.E. governments are looking to sign a letter of agreement on 2 December to coincide with the U.A.E.’s national day celebration.

Commenting on the U.S. announcement, Netanyahu said that Israel faces a common enemy with the U.A.E., referring to the common animosity toward Iran.

Israel signed normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain at the White House in Washington, D.C. in September.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Thursday made a two-hour visit to Israel, during which he held meetings with Netanyahu and Gantz aimed at promoting Israel’s qualitative military superiority.

Yediot Aharonot newspaper reported that Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces Aviv Kochavi also met with Esper and made a series of order requests, including new squadron of F-35 warplanes, the latest models of the F-15, helicopters, and smart bombs.

The newspaper added that the U.S. has accepted all Israeli requests.

Esper’s visit comes just days ahead of the U.S. election.