Citing Israeli interests, three US senators try to block F-35 fighter jet sale to UAE

US President Donald Trump stands with an F-35 on the South Lawn of the White House during an event to showcase American made products at the White House July 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. (AFP)

A group of senators Wednesday announced their rejection of the US sale of F-35 fighter jets and other weapons systems to the UAE under the proposed deal worth more than $23 billion.

Senators Bob Menendez, Rand Paul and Chris Murphy said they were introducing four separate Joint Resolutions of Disapproval rejected the Trump administration’s push to supply the UAE with a “precedent-setting aircraft and myriad of other weapons systems.”

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The deal, which was announced earlier this month, includes Reaper drones, F-35 fighter jets and air-to-air missiles to the UAE.

The three senators - two Democrats and one Republican - accused the Trump administration of trying to “rush this sale of incredibly sophisticated weaponry, while also claiming that the administration “circumvented the informal congressional review process.”

According to the three senators, the State Department and Defense Department did not respond to Congressional inquires over how such a deal would impact “specific national security risks.” But Menendez voiced his concerns that this could “impact the national security interests” of Israel.

The UAE, Bahrain and Israel signed the historic Abraham Accords in September, making them the second two Arab states to strike peace deals with Tel Aviv.

Read more: UAE, Bahrain, Israel and the US ‘change the course of history’

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz made trips to Washington after reports surfaced of the UAE’s intention to purchase F-35 fighter jets. And in a joint statement with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, the pair said they would not oppose the sale of certain weapons systems to the UAE “since the US is upgrading Israel’s military capability and is maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge.”

Last week, in a call with reporters, a senior State Department official defended the deal with the UAE.

“Because the UAE is an important friend and partner, we will do everything we can to help it counter the Iranian regime. This includes the proposed sale of $23 billion worth” of fighter jets, aerial systems and more, a senior State Department official said.

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Last Update: Thursday, 19 November 2020 KSA 01:10 - GMT 22:10
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