Safeguarding military edge in region is top priority for Jerusalem, Eli Cohen says following report Doha made purchase request
By TOI STAFF
October 11, 2020
Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen said Sunday that Israel would oppose any potential deal for the sale of American F-35 jets to Qatar, days after a report said the Gulf nation had told the United States it wanted to buy the stealth fighters.
The Qatari request, reported last Wednesday by the Reuters news agency, came after reports in September that the US and the United Arab Emirates were likely to seal an arms deal for the sale of the aircraft following the Washington-brokered Abraham Accords between the UAE and Israel and Bahrain and Israel.
Doha’s request is seen as another test of the US’s commitment to maintaining the Jewish state’s military edge in the region in the face of wealthy Gulf states seeking to purchase advanced military hardware.
Speaking with Army Radio, Cohen said that “our security and military superiority in the region are the most important things for us.
“Our area hasn’t yet turned into Switzerland,” he added.
Under US law, Congress is tasked with vetting sales of arms to Middle Eastern countries and weighing them against America’s commitments to Israeli military superiority, with a determination usually made following consultations between the Pentagon and Israeli defense officials. While Israel cannot veto a sale, it can raise concerns that could make it more difficult to seal a deal.