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September 25, 2020 9:32 am

Amid UAE F-35 Controversy, Top US Senators Voice Support for Israel’s Military Edge

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A US Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft. Photo: US Air Force Photo/Alex R. Loyd. – The chairman and ranking member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee voiced support on Thursday for Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME) amid the controversy over the United States possibly selling F-35s to the United Arab Emirates after Abu Dhabi signed a deal on Sept. 15 to normalize ties with Israel.

The F-35 issue came up during a hearing on Middle Eastern issues.

US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale assured that the US State Department and US Defense Department would vet any sale and “consult with the Israelis” and Congress before proceeding.

“With all due respect, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if Israel’s the only country in the Middle East that has F-35s, that selling it to someone else no longer produces that Qualitative Military Edge in the air,” said the committee’s ranking member, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

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“Any potential arms sales must continue congressional consultations on meeting our obligation to retain Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge and satisfying the other requirements of the Arms Export Control Act,” said the committee’s chairman, Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho).

Israel has expressed objections over the sale of F-35s to the UAE.

The United States and UAE seek to have a deal by December, reported Reuters on Tuesday.

Under the Arms Export Control Act, Risch and Menendez, along with the chairman and the ranking member of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee—Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), respectively—are in charge of the congressional review process surrounding arms sales.

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