(photo credit: )
Israeli objections have held up Washington's plans for a major arms sale to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies aimed at deterring Iran, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
The Times claimed that Israel was concerned the advanced weapons would damage its military advantage in the Middle East.
Reportedly, Israeli officials - including former defense minister Shaul Mofaz - recently came to Washington with the intention of persuading the US to cancel the planned sales, according to the newspaper.
Israel was particularly concerned about precision-guided weapons that would give Saudi warplanes much more accurate ability to strike targets, US officials were quoted as saying.
The officials went on to say that the US had made few if any sales of satellite-guided weapons to countries in the Gulf, while Israel had received such arms since the 1990s and used then in its war with Hizbullah last summer.
The Times quoted a US defense industry executive as saying the deal could be worth $5 billion to $10b. if all of the weapons under discussion - including tanks, warships and advanced air defense systems - were sold.
Israel's complaints cast uncertainty over the Bush administration's plan to enhance the militaries of Gulf allies as a bulwark against Iran and a demonstration that Washington remained committed to Sunni Arab countries in the region regardless of what happens in Iraq, said the Times.
The paper said administration officials were discussing a possible separate arms package for Israel to dispel its concerns.
"It's not like the Israelis are going to end up with nothing," a senior administration official was quoted as saying, adding "the Israelis understand that it's in our interest and their interest" that the United States try to shore up military systems for Sunni Arab allies.
Israel was also concerned that the Bush administration's aim for a US-Sunni-Israeli coalition allied against Iran might not materialize and that a revolution in Saudi Arabia would leave its mostly US-made arsenal in militant Islamist hands, the Times continued.