Aug 23, 2020 - World

Kushner: Sale of F-35s to UAE is more likely after normalization deal

Jared Kushner
Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told CNN Sunday that the U.S.-brokered normalization deal between Israel and the UAE increases the probability that the Trump administration would agree to sell F-35 jets to the UAE.

Why it matters: Israel is the only country in the Middle East to possess the F-35, the United States' most advanced fighter aircraft. Reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed off on potential sales to the UAE — which he denies — ignited a political controversy in Israel.

What he's saying: The issue is currently under review by the State Department and the Pentagon, Kushner said.

  • He stressed that the Trump administration is committed to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge, but added that the UAE is a good military partner for the U.S. and that there's a chance the F-35 deal will take place after Israel-UAE normalization.

The big picture: Kushner echoed similar statements by Emirati officials on the issue. The UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said last Thursday that his country's normalization deal with Israel should "make it easier" to buy F-35 fighter jets from the U.S.

  • "We have legitimate requests that are there and we ought to get them," Gargash said in a virtual briefing to the Atlantic Council.
  • "Now the whole idea of a state of war with Israel will no longer exist, and so it will make it easier for the U.S. to sell us the planes."
  • Gargash said he doesn't understand why Israel is so concerned about the potential sale. “I don’t know how much of it is domestic Israeli politics," he said.
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