Axios reported that sources claimed the Emiratis had believed that the F-35 deal was part of the agreement to normalize relations with Israel.
A planned public meeting between the UN ambassadors of Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United States scheduled for last week was canceled by the UAE after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed opposition to a potential U.S.-UAE arms deal.
According to an Axios report, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft invited the Israeli and Emirati ambassadors to the meeting, which was meant to be a public show of goodwill following the announcement of a normalization accord by Israel and the UAE two weeks ago. It was intended to be held at the UN headquarters in New York.
However, after Netanyahu publicly voiced opposition to a proposed U.S.-UAE arms deal in which the latter would receive the state-of-the-art F-35 fighter jet, thus potentially undermining Israel’s “qualitative military edge” in the Middle East, the UAE nixed the meeting indefinitely.
Axios reported that sources claimed the Emiratis had believed that the F-35 deal was part of the agreement to normalize relations with Israel, and Netanyahu’s public statements against it were seen as a violation of the accord. Furthermore, they were said to be outraged that Netanyahu had mentioned he would bring up the issue with members of the U.S. Congress.
As a result, the UAE canceled the meeting in order to send a message to Israel. In addition, high-level public meetings will be postponed until the issue is resolved.
The UAE sees the F-35s and an arms agreement with the U.S. in general as essential to defending itself against Iranian aggression.
Reuters reported on Monday that at a press conference in Jerusalem, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged to preserve Israel’s regional military edge.
“The United States has a legal requirement with respect to qualitative military edge,” he said. “We will continue to honor that.”