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The signing of the Abraham Accords. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty

The Trump administration has formally notified Congress of a $23 billion arms deal with the United Arab Emirates, which will make the UAE the first Arab country to possess America's most advanced fighter aircraft, the F-35.

Why it matters: This deal has been in the works for some time, but became a sticking point in Israel's normalization process with the UAE after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied reports that he had given a green light to the deal.

To date, Israel is the only country in the region to possess the F-35.

  • The U.S. has a commitment to ensure Israel's military superiority in its region, but the UAE insisted that should no longer be a factor now that the two had normalized relations.
  • Netanyahu announced on Oct. 23 that he would drop his opposition to the deal, paving the way for its completion.
  • The U.S., Israel and UAE all share a common foe: Iran.

What they're saying: "The UAE's historic decision to normalize relations with Israel under the Abraham Accords offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to positively transform the region's strategic landscape," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

  • "Our adversaries, especially those in Iran, know this and will stop at nothing to disrupt this shared progress."
  • "This proposed sale will make the UAE even more capable and interoperable with U.S. partners in a manner that is fully consistent with America's longstanding commitment to ensuring Israel's Qualitative Military Edge," Pompeo said.

The big picture: Massive arms deals with Gulf states will be a controversial aspect of President Trump's foreign policy legacy.

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - World

Biden picks Rob Malley as envoy for Iran

Malley (L) during Iran deal negotiations in Vienna, 2015. Photo: Siamek Ebrahimi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Image

Rob Malley will serve as the Biden administration's special envoy for Iran, working out of the State Department, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced on Friday.

Why it matters: Malley, a former Middle East adviser to Barack Obama, took part in the negotiations over the Iran nuclear deal and is a strong supporter of a U.S. return to the agreement. Reports of his likely selection led to sharp criticism from opponents of the deal like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), while former colleagues from the Obama administration rallied to Malley's defense.

Jan 28, 2021 - World

Biden turns the page on Trump's Israel-Palestine policies

Biden with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2010. Photo: David Furst/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration laid out its Israel-Palestine policy at the UN Security Council on Tuesday, highlighting the importance of repairing ties with the Palestinian Authority.

Driving the news: According to the new policies, the U.S. will resume aid to the Palestinians and reopen the PLO office in Washington and the consulate in Jerusalem.

2 hours ago - Health

Florida records most new daily COVID cases in state since pandemic began

Nurses bring a portable x-ray machine to a treatment tent outside the emergency department at Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Florida, set up to serve as an overflow area as the number of COVID-19 infections surges throughout Brevard County. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida reported 21,683 new COVID-19 cases — the most in the state in a single day since the pandemic began, per data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday.

The big picture: Florida is now the U.S. coronavirus epicenter, with the Delta variant driving a surge, Axios Tampa Bay's Ben Montgomery notes.