Israel Signals It Won’t Oppose U.S. Sale of F-35 Aircraft to UAE

Israel won’t object to the sale of “certain weapons systems” to the United Arab Emirates, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday, making it likely the U.S. will sell Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 stealth jet to the Gulf country.

The Israeli announcement comes after a meeting between Defense Minister Benny Gantz and U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper at the Pentagon on Thursday. Israel said the counterparts signed an agreement allowing it to acquire advanced weapons and upgrade its military.

The UAE has been seeking to buy the F-35 for several years, and Emirati officials said their recent agreement to normalize relations with Israel would enable a deal.

Israel had previously opposed the sale, a line Netanyahu repeated even after striking the peace accord with the UAE, saying it would compromise his nation’s military advantage.

U.S. law requires that arms sales to any country in the Mideast must not adversely impact “Israel’s qualitative military edge.”

The Trump administration had told Gantz of its plans to notify Congress that it intended to provide certain arms to the UAE, Israel’s premier and defense minister said in a statement.

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