A day after reports emerged on a deal between the United States and the United Arab Emirates over the sale of the F-35 fighter jets, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman reassured Israelis that the country’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME) was not at risk.
In a pre-recorded interview aired on Wednesday as part of The Jerusalem Post’s Annual Conference, Friedman said that the F-35 would not be phased into service in the Gulf country anytime soon.
“The Emirates have been trying to get F-35s for six or seven years,” said Friedman, adding that “delivery time is probably another six or seven years from now.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who is in Washington meeting his American counterpart Mark Esper, discussed the issue as well as other ways to maintain Israel’s regional superiority.
When asked if the sale would in fact undermine Israel’s QME, Friedman replied, “QME is a matter of law, not a matter of policy. It has been U.S. law since 2008, and U.S. policy a lot longer than that.
“Israel has dealt with the QME behind the scenes professionally and successfully for more than a decade; it is going to continue to work this way.”
According to unconfirmed reports, the normalization agreement signed last week between the UAE and Israel was made possible after the Trump administration said it would sell F-35 aircraft to the country, potentially offsetting Israel’s decades-old military edge over all Arab air forces.