Gantz in US talks of Iran, Israel's QME in shadow of F-35 sales to UAE

He emphasized that Israel's defense system backs and appreciates the US's policy of pressure on Iran on the international front, while being in close cooperation with Israel on the subject.

Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, September 22, 2020. (photo credit: SHMULIK ALMANI)
Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, September 22, 2020.
(photo credit: SHMULIK ALMANI)
 Defense Minister Benny Gantz discussed maintaining Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME), international policy regarding Iran and Israel-US security cooperation during his visit to Washington on Tuesday.
Gantz, who is also the alternate prime minister, met with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien and US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.
"Israel is the United States’ most important partner in the Middle East and the bonds between our countries are unshakable. Glad to welcome Minister of Defense Benny Gantz back to the Pentagon today," Esper wrote on his Twitter account. 
His one-day trip took place amid reports that the Trump administration and the United Arab Emirates hope to have an initial agreement on the sale of F-35 stealth fighter jets to the Gulf state in place by December.
Israel has been concerned that the pending sale, which was advanced concurrently with the US brokered peace deal between the Jewish state and the UAE, would harm the country’s QME.
"We commend the US efforts and its commitment to Israel's security,” Gantz said after meeting with Kushner.
He began the conversation by thanking Kushner for his and the Trump administration's extraordinary efforts and achievements to establish peace and stability in the Middle East – which led, among other things, to the Israel-UAE deal, known as the Abraham Accords. Israel has also signed a declaration of normalization with Bahrain.
“We will work in partnership to promote stability in the Middle East through normalization with other countries,” Gantz told Kushner.
The two discussed ways to advance further agreements to secure the region’s stability, while ensuring that the preservation of Israeli security was a basic cornerstone understanding of the process.
Gantz stressed at the end of the meeting that these historic achievements were led by the US administration, illustrating the importance and the friendship between Israel and the United States.
The visit took place as the US has sought support to snap back United Nations Security Council sanctions against Iran, a move that would end the Iran deal and ensure that an arms embargo against Tehran would remain in place. Israel has supported and worked closely with the US on its diplomatic campaign against Iran.
“We will continue our uncompromising efforts to curb Iranian aggression and harness more countries toward the effort,” Gantz told O’Brien when the two met.
Gantz emphasized to O'Brien that Israel would continue to act against Iranian entrenchment in Syria and the Middle East. He added that Iranian aggression had not cease during this period either.
When he met with Esper, Gantz was received in an official ceremony at the entrance to the Pentagon. The two men also discussed Iran and Israel's QME.
Reuters contributed to this report.