Israel will oppose Qatar F-35 warplane sale to ensure ‘military superiority’

Middle East Eye  /  October 11, 2020

Qatar has formally asked to buy US fighter jet, also sought by the United Arab Emirates.

Israel will oppose the sale of American F-35 fighter jets to Qatar to ensure its own military superiority in the region, the Israeli intelligence minister said on Sunday. 

“Our security and military superiority in the region are the most significant things for us. Our region has still not turned into Switzerland,” intelligence minister Eli Cohen told Israeli Army Radio on Sunday. 

Cohen was responding to questions about a Reuters report that Qatar had asked the US about purchasing the F-35 jets, prized for their ability to avoid detection. 

The Qatari request follows an August deal between the US and the United Arab Emirates in which Washington agreed to consider giving the Gulf state approval to buy F-35s in a side deal to a US-brokered agreement called the Abraham Accords to normalise diplomatic ties with Israel.

Israel also opposed the sale of F-35s to the UAE, despite its new relations with the country. The American ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, said the UAE may have to wait up to seven years for the sale. 

In an interview with the Jerusalem Post in September, Friedman said ensuring Israel’s military advantage in the region was a “matter of law, not a matter of policy”.

“It has been US law since 2008, and US policy a lot longer than that. Israel has dealt with the QME [qualitative military edge] behind the scenes professionally and successfully for more than a decade; it is going to continue to work this way.”

US President Donald Trump has said he has “no problem” selling the fighter jets to the UAE.