Bid to stop US sales of F-35 jets to UAE fails in Senate

Bid to stop US sales of F-35 jets to UAE fails in Senate
Democrats failed to block a US sale of jets to the United Arab Emirates.
2 min read
10 December, 2020
It appears the US will continue its sale [Getty]

Democrats on Wednesday failed to block a US sale of top-of-the-line F-35 jets and drones to the United Arab Emirates, seen as a reward by President Donald Trump after its recognition of Israel.

Splitting mostly along party lines, opponents of the $23 billion sale could not reach the 50 senators needed on procedural votes that would pave the way to blocking the deal.

The block comes as Israel has expressed that it is "very comfortable" with the sale of F-35 jets to the UAE despite criticism of the plans in Congress, the country's ambassador to the United States said this week.

"We strongly believe this agreement, this arms package, will not violate the US commitment to maintain Israel's Qualitative Military Edge," Ambassador Ron Dermer told MSNBC at the time.

Washington has long maintained a policy of ensuring Israel's military remains better equipped than those of surrounding Arab nations.

Plans to sell F-35 fighter planes to the United Arab Emirates were initially met with controversy in both Washington and Tel Aviv, with some expressing concern the sale would violate a decades-long policy.

"What keeps me up at night isn't the sale of the F-35 to the UAE," Ambassador Dermer said on Tuesday in an interview alongside his Emirati counterpart, Ambassador Youssef Al-Otaiba.

It is the first time the two have appeared publicly together since the Trump administration announced Israel and the UAE had agreed to normalise ties earlier this year.

"It's the idea that someone would return to the nuclear deal with Iran," Dermer explained, describing Abu Dhabi as an "ally in confronting Iran".

Israel is the fiercest opponent of an Iranian nuclear programme and welcomed the Trump administration's so-called "Maximum Pressure" policy on Tehran, launched after Washington exited the 2015 nuclear deal more than two years ago.

President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to rejoin the nuclear deal and lift sanctions on Tehran as long as the Islamic Republic sticks to commitments made under the landmark pact

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