- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 29, 2020

The State Department on Thursday notified congress of a proposed sale of F-35 joint strike fighters to the United Arab Emirates.

The informal notice comes weeks after the UAE joined the Abraham Accords, an agreement to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel. It was the one of the first Arab states to do so in decades and the move opened the door to greater military cooperation with the U.S.

Following the announcement, Israeli officials quickly rejected efforts from UAE officials to purchase the sophisticated F-35 fighter jets, a purchase that was previously banned.

Despite concern from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and pro-Israel lawmakers in congress that any sale could cut into Israel’s regounal military speriority, Israeli offiicals ultimately agreed to the UAE’s purchase.

But skepticism remains on Capitol Hill, where the purchase must be approved by lawmakers. In a statement Thursday, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel said that the deal “would significantly change the military balance in the Gulf and affect Israel’s military edge.”

“The export of this aircraft requires very careful consideration and Congress must analyze all the ramifications,” the New York Democrat said. “Rushing these sales is not in anyone’s interest.”

As congress deliberates the sale, Mr. Engel said that the advanced technology “must be safeguarded from our greatest global adversaries.”

“With Russia and China active in the region,” he continued, “the American people will require unimpeachable assurances that our most advanced military capabilities will be protected.”

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