Since Israel and the United Arab Emirates agreed to normalize relations, the controversy over a potential F-35 deal for Abu Dhabi has rocked Israeli politics. In an interview on Friday, Israel’s intelligence minister said Israel will work to ensure that the UAE will not receive any F-35s from the US.
“We will not agree to any sale … We will act against the sale of any weaponry that will hurt Israel’s qualitative military edge, including the F-35,” Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen told Israel’s Kan TV.
Cohen also said Israel will act through its lobby groups in the US, like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), to prevent such an arms deal from passing through Congress.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said he did not know anything about a potential US sale of F-35s to the UAE when he agreed to the deal. Netanyahu denied this again on Friday after a report from The New York Times claimed the prime minister did have knowledge of the F-35 aspect of the agreement.
The Times report cited anonymous officials who said Netanyahu had knowledge of the US plan to sell F-35s and other advanced weaponry to the UAE, and that the Israeli prime minister went along with the plan.