New York Times: Netanyahu knew all about sale of F-35s to UAE

U.S. officials tell New York Times that Pompeo visit last week was to stop Israeli opposition to the move.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu privately agreed with American plans to sell advanced weapons to the UAE, but opposed it publicly as the move was unpopular in Israel, only ceasing his public criticism after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited him in Jerusalem last week to press the issue, the New York Times reported Thursday.

According to the report, President Trump announced the Israel-UAE peace deal, but failed to mention publicly that talks on the sale of U.S. military hardware to the United Arab Emirates were taking place at the same time. Apparently the diplomatic breakthrough in getting an Arab country to recognize Israel trumped Israel’s fears of having a former enemy Arab state receive the same advanced weapons that Israel possesses.

When the news of the sale of the weapons was published last month, Netanyahu denied several times he knew of the deal and would oppose the sale of F-35 stealth bombers to the United Arab Emirates.

“I have to say simply that this deal did not include Israel’s acceptance of any arms deal and I don’t know of any arms deal that has been agreed upon. It may be contemplated. Our position hasn’t changed,” Netanyahu said, noting his opposition to any sale of advanced fighter craft to the UAE.

However, since re-stating his opposition at the press conference following his meeting with Pompeo he has fallen silent on the issue.

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The officials told the Times that “Netanyahu’s public statements were false,” and that one of the purposes of the Pompeo visit was to bring “the Israeli prime minister back in line.”

Last month, Netanyahu posted a video on social media saying it was difficult “for the Left and many in the media to see a right-wing Israeli prime minister who brings true peace, ‘peace for peace’ and not ‘land for peace ‘” – referring to the model that calls for Arab countries to make peace with Israel only after a withdrawal from Judea and Samaria.

“So today they are inventing fake news. What can you do, there are facts. Israel did not, contrary to claims by the Left and the media, give any consent to any arms deal between the United Arab Emirates and the United States,” Netanyahu said in the video well before the Pompeo visit.

Netanyahu then hotly denied a subsequent report in Yediot Aharonot that he had approved the sale, calling that also fake news.

The White House has stepped up pressure in recent weeks to sell a package of state-of-the-art weapons to the Emirates, including the F-35 and advanced drones. The deal also includes electronic warfare aircraft that allow covert attacks by blocking enemy air defense systems.

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The UAE is located across the Gulf waters from Iran, which along with constantly threatening to destroy Israel has also threatened the Gulf Arab states.