Yaalon: U.S. Aid to Gulf States Could Erode Israeli Qualitative Edge

HERZLIYA (Reuters) -

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon voiced concern on Tuesday that Washington’s supply of advanced arms to Gulf Arab states to deter Iran could eventually challenge Israel’s U.S.-backed regional military supremacy.

“Even if there are not now any hostile designs (among them) against us, as we know in the Middle East intentions are liable to change. The capability will without a doubt be there and this must be prepared for,” he said.

Setting the stage for talks later in the day with General Martin Dempsey, the head of the U.S. armed forces, Yaalon spoke at the annual Herzliya security conference of a need to maintain Israel’s “qualitative edge” as it seeks increased defense grants from Washington.

“The Gulf states are arming themselves, mainly with Western, American weaponry, in the understanding they will need defensive capabilities to contend with the new Iran situation,” Yaalon said.

“This of course challenges us, too, and here there is enormous importance to preserving what is called the state of Israel’s ‘qualitative edge’ in the face of this regional arms race,” he said.