Israel’s US ambassador worried about Iran, not F-35 sales

“What keeps me up at night is actually not the proposed F-35 sale to the Emirates,” said Dermer. “What keeps me up at night is the idea that somebody would return to the nuclear deal with Iran.”

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Israel is more concerned with the threat of a nuclear Iran than F-365 fighter jet sales to the United Arab Emirates, said Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” news show Monday.

“We believe that the UAE is an ally in confronting Iran, and we do not believe that this arms package will violate the U.S. commitment to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge,” said Dermer, adding that he was “very comfortable” with the UAE obtaining the jets.

In September, reports emerged that the UAE-Israel normalization deal included a clause which gave the U.S. permission to sell advanced F-35 fighter jets, apparently reducing the Jewish state’s qualitative military edge in the region.

Netanyahu previously called the reports “fake news.” Senior Emirati officials told Israel Hayom that Netanyahu gave explicit approval for the arrangement.

“What keeps me up at night is actually not the proposed F-35 sale to the Emirates,” said Dermer. “What keeps me up at night is the idea that somebody would return to the nuclear deal with Iran.”

“I would hope that the incoming administration would understand that 2020 is not 2015.”

President-elect Joe Biden has expressed interest in re-entering the 2015 nuclear deal, which President Trump unilaterally withdrew from in 2018.

Dermer explained that he believed all countries in the region should be consulted before any potential return to the nuclear deal.

“When you’re preparing to do something with North Korea, you know what? You speak to Japan and you speak to South Korea — your allies in that region,” he said.

“[We] hope what the new administration would do is to speak to your allies in the region, speak to Israel, speak to the Arab states. Try to forge a common policy with us because we are on the front lines, and we are in danger from an aggressive Iran.”

Dermer’s remarks come on the heels of a recent statement by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, calling for the U.S. to consult with Gulf nations before re-entering the deal.

At a security conference on Saturday in Manama, Bahrain, Prince Faisal said, “Primarily what we expect is that we are fully consulted, that we and our other regional friends are fully consulted in what goes on vis-a-vis the negotiations with Iran.”

“I think we’ve seen as a result of the after-effects of the JCPOA that not involving the regional countries results in a build up of mistrust and neglect of the issues of real concern and of real effect on regional security,” he added.