At meeting with Netanyahu, Pompeo says more Arab countries should recognize Israel to ‘increase stability.’
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that America will continue to explore the possibility of transferring weapons and capabilities to the UAE to enable it to defend itself against Iran, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressing opposition to the idea at their joint press conference.
Pompeo landed in Israel Monday morning to kick off a round of visits in Middle Eastern capitals where he will encourage others to follow the UAE’s lead in establishing formal relations with Israel.
Following their meeting, Pompeo and Netanyahu held a joint press conference where they appeared to politely spar over the issue of the U.S. supplying advance weaponry to the UAE.
Netanyahu praised the U.S. for its role in helping broker the Israel-UAE peace deal, and said it should prove a model for the future, but also raised the issue of the sale of advanced weapons to the Arab country.
“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.
“I also learned from Secretary Pompeo, heard again a very, very strong commitment that under all circumstances the United States will ensure Israel’s qualitative edge.”
“That has been proved to be true over four decades of peace with Egypt [and] two and a half decades of peace with Jordan. The United States stood by that commitment and I have no doubt that it will continue to do so.”
Pompeo replied that America would continue to preserve Israel’s military advantage, noting that “if more countries will join the UAE move – it will increase stability.”
The Secretary of State appeared to infer that the Trump administration was seriously considering providing the UAE with advanced fighter jets, thought to be the F-35 stealth fighter that Israel possesses.
“The United States has a legal requirement with respect to [Israel’s] qualitative military edge, and we will continue to honor that,” Pompeo said, but he added that America also has commitments to its Arab allies.
“We have a 20-plus-year security relationship with the United Arab Emirates as well, where we have provided them with technical assistance and military assistance and we will now continue to review that process,” Pompeo noted.
“We will continue to make sure we are delivering them with the equipment that they need to secure and defend their own people from this same threat, from the Islamic Republic of Iran” he said.
“We are deeply committed to doing that and achieving that and will do it in a way that preserves our commitment to Israel as well,” Pompeo said.
The two met in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem and also discussed the issues of the Iranian threats to the region and Chinese involvement in Israel, where the U.S. is concerned over Israeli use of Chinese 5G technology.
Pompeo will later also meet with Deputy Prime Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.
From Israel, the Secretary of State will visit the United Arab Emirates and then hold talks in Bahrain and Sudan – where he will discuss the importance of deepening relations with Israel.
Trump’s senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and U.S. Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz will arrive in the region early next month, in part to try to advance agreements between Israel and other Arab countries.