The U.S. to sale F-35 as part of a secret Israeli-UAE deal

Lockheed Martin F-35A

A secret push by President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner to sell advanced arms — including F-35 stealth fighter jets — to the United Arab Emirates has caused confusion and frustration among agencies and congressional committees that would normally be involved in such a sale but have been left in the dark, according to CNN reports.

Kushner is supporting the administration’s discussions with the UAE about the potential advanced arms sale, which have been led by the NSC Senior Director for the Middle East, Miguel Correa, a senior administration official said.

Sale of advanced weapons systems to the United Arab Emirates that could end Israeli military superiority in the region was a condition imposed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed before the deal could be finalized

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is set to sell F-35 fighter jets and advanced drones to the UAE in a secret clause that was part of the agreement to establish diplomatic ties between Israel and the Gulf nation.

The clause lifts long-standing Israeli opposition to the sale of the strategic weapons systems to other countries in the region, according to U.S. and Emirati sources.

The United States had traditionally refrained from selling advanced weapons systems to Arab countries to maintain Israeli military superiority.

The establishment of full diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE was announced earlier this month, in a deal that includes the suspension of Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank.

An F-35I is a variant of F-35A Joint Strike Fighter used Israeli Air Force. The IAF maintains a strong two squadrons of F-35I.

The sources confirmed that Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed conditioned the agreement on the multi-billion-dollar arms sale. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that the annexation was still on the table at a later date despite the agreement to halt the move. But UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said last week that the agreement dealt annexation a “death blow” and White House aide Jared Kushner said Monday that the U.S. would not be giving approval for such a move “for some time.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in response that there has been no change in Israel’s position opposing the sale of tie-breaking weapons to any Mideast nation.

In the wake of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the United States gave assurances to Israel that it would be able to maintain military superiority and that no sale of advanced weapons systems would be made to any other Middle East country without Israel’s agreement. These assurances had been observed ever since, until the U.S. deal. Trump had publicly stated his intention to sell strategic weapons to the UAE and Saudi Arabia but was blocked after Congress passed an arms embargo on such a sale last year.

Any sale involving the F-35 would require serious scrutiny from Congress, said two congressional aides. But relevant committees in Congress have not been notified of an arms sale to UAE involving F-35s and there is no unofficial review underway either, the aides said. There is frustration among members of both parties about the lack of communication from the administration on these discussions, the aides added.

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