Top US official: Divide credit later, now unite behind peace deal

Comment comes after day of bickering between Israel’s leadership following reports that the UAE will now be allowed to buy F-35 fighter jets.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Benny Gantz hold a press conference in Tel Aviv on July 27, 2020. (photo credit: TAL SHAHAR/POOL)
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Benny Gantz hold a press conference in Tel Aviv on July 27, 2020.
(photo credit: TAL SHAHAR/POOL)
After a day of bickering between Israel’s leadership, a senior US official told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday night that Washington expects Israel to come together to help advance its new peace deal with the United Arab Emirates.
The fighting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi broke out following a report earlier in the day, according to which the UAE would – due to the peace deal – receive permission to purchase the advanced fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighter jet.
“Now is the time we would expect Israel to unite to advance the peace deal and work graciously together instead of against one another,” the senior US official said. “There will be plenty of credit to go around.”
The US has denied that an agreement to sell F-35s to the UAE was part of the deal, in line with Netanyahu’s own denial and claims that he voiced objection to a future sale in recent conversations with US officials, as well as in an official letter he sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just a few weeks ago.
Both Gantz and Ashkenazi convened press conferences Monday afternoon, during which they claimed they were not aware of any such condition, adding that if there was such a sale, they would work to stop it.
Israeli defense officials are naturally concerned with the potential sale of F-35s to the UAE – the IAF is currently the only F-35 operator in the Middle East. Nevertheless, for context, it is important to look at previous peace deals Israel struck with Arab countries.
Both Jordan and Egypt fly American F-16s, purchased after the countries made peace with the State of Israel. In addition, Egypt is a regular recipient of financial military aid from the United States ever since the signing of the Camp David Accords in 1979. Over the years, it has used this money to purchase numerous advanced US weapons systems.
If and when an official request is made by the UAE to purchase the advanced fighter aircraft, Israel – if it decides to – will be able to lobby the administration to stop the deal and then, if that fails, try to get Congress to reject it.