Israel will oppose any US F-35 sale to Qatar, intelligence minister says

Cohen said that Israel works in partnership with the US for both countries to preserve their own interests, pointing out that Israel halts arms sales due to American demands.

An F-35 pilot prepares for take off from the Vermont Air National Guard Base with the flag of the United States, May 22, 2020 (photo credit: US AIR NATIONAL GUARD/MISS JULIE M. SHEA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
An F-35 pilot prepares for take off from the Vermont Air National Guard Base with the flag of the United States, May 22, 2020
(photo credit: US AIR NATIONAL GUARD/MISS JULIE M. SHEA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
To preserve its qualitative military edge, Israel will ask the US not to sell F-35 fighter jets to Qatar, Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen said Sunday.
Asked on Army Radio if Israel will oppose the sale after Qatar submitted a request last week, he answered in the affirmative.
“As far as we’re concerned, security and our superiority in the region are the most significant things,” Cohen said. “For us, our region still hasn’t become Switzerland. Israel is the most threatened country, not only in the Middle East but in the whole world, and as such, we need to preserve our superiority.”
Israel works in partnership with the US for both their own interests and has halted arms sales due to American demands, he said.
Qatar’s request comes as the United Arab Emirates continues its yearslong pursuit of the warplanes in light of normalization of ties with Israel. The Trump administration has sought to push the sale to the UAE forward as soon as possible, but Israel opposes it, seeing it as a threat to its QME.
Israel’s QME is written into US law. The White House and State Department have to give Congress their views as to whether any arms sales in the Middle East threaten Jerusalem’s regional advantage. US officials, including Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the president, have said they will find a way to complete the F-35 sale while also maintaining Israel’s edge.
Israel is currently the only Middle Eastern country to receive F-35s, ordering 50 and having an option for another 25.
Since the UAE-Israel peace was announced, Qatar has been mentioned as a country that may be next in line to declare official ties with Israel. However, Qatar is on a different Middle Eastern axis than the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. the moderate Gulf states boycott Doha, which is aligned with Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood and helps fund Hamas.
Qatar is also host to the largest US military facility in the Middle East and home to 8,000 US service members and Department of Defense civilian employees.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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