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Kushner and O'Brien on board the El Al flight from Israel to the UAE. Photo: Nir Elias/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plan to discuss the pending sale of F-35 fighter jets by the U.S. to the UAE, Jared Kushner told reporters on board the first commercial flight from Israel to the UAE, which landed in Abu Dhabi this morning.

Why it matters: The White House has hailed the normalization deal it brokered between Israel and the UAE as a breakthrough for the region — but shortly after the announcement, a major disagreement emerged over the UAE's desire to acquire the F-35.

Behind the scenes: Emirati officials considered Netanyahu's public opposition to the deal a violation of the understandings they had reached, and they canceled a ceremonial meeting at the UN to show their displeasure.

The backstory: The U.S. has committed to ensuring the regional military superiority of Israel, which is the only country in the region to possess the F-35.

  • Kushner and national security adviser Robert O'Brien discussed the issue with Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Jerusalem on Sunday.
  • On Monday's flight, Kushner said Netanyahu has full confidence that Trump will do everything he can to ensure Israel can maintain its qualitative military edge.
  • Kushner added that the U.S. has a 30-year security relationship with the UAE, which it intends to enhance while bringing Israel into their security dialogue. "I know Netanyahu sees the great opportunity that was created here," he said.

The latest: In a press conference after landing in Abu Dhabi, Kushner said he was confident the U.S. could both deepen its security relationship with the UAE and preserve Israel's qualitative military edge.

What to watch: Gantz said publicly after Sunday's meeting that he thinks the U.S. and Israel can find a way to maintain Israel's military superiority even if the deal moves forward.

Go deeper

Dec 7, 2020 - World

Scoop: Israel lobbies senators to pass Sudan immunity bill

After a request from the Sudanese government, Israel has started lobbying senators and members of Congress to approve a bill that would give Sudan immunity from future lawsuits in the U.S. by victims of terrorism, senior Israeli officials told me.

Why it matters: The immunity bill was part of a trilateral deal between the U.S., Sudan and Israel that included an agreement to begin the process of normalizing ties. Israeli officials are concerned that the normalization process will come to a halt if the deal unravels. The deadline for passing the bill is Dec. 14.

Cuomo asks New York AG and chief judge to choose "independent" investigator into sexual harassment claims

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at a press conference on Feb. 24. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFP via Getty Images

A special counselor to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement on Sunday asking the state's attorney general and chief judge to jointly pick an "independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation" to investigate claims of sexual harassment against the governor.

The state of play: The statement is an about-face from Cuomo, who had previously selected a former judge close to a top aide to lead the investigation, the New York Times reported, a move that was widely criticized.

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

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