Gantz, Esper Sign Declaration on QME

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper stands with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz upon his arrival at the Pentagon. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and his counterpart U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper have signed a joint declaration confirming the latter’s commitment to maintaining its ally’s qualitative military edge (QME) in the Middle East.

The signing ceremony was conducted at the Pentagon on Thursday.

The declaration comes several weeks after the White House said that it is giving consideration to the sale of F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates, with which Israel has agreed to normalize relations. Critics of the UAE deal said that such an arms sale could jeopardize Israel’s military superiority in the region, to which the U.S. has already pledged itself.

“It was important for me once again to reaffirm the special relationship between our two countries, the commitment we have made to Israel’s security based on our shared values, our shared history, and I want to thank you for your personal efforts in the past few weeks,” Esper said.

Gantz thanked Esper for his commitment to Israeli security: “Indeed over the last few weeks, you and I led, together with other people, very good and very important discussions that reassure the bi-partisan commitment to Israel’s QME. I want to thank you and your people, and the American Administration, for supporting it.

“Now that we are entering an era of positive normalization processes in the Middle East, which actually can face an aggressive Iran across the region, this ability of continued cooperation is so very important, and I am looking forward to hosting you in Israel. I want to thank you, the Administration, and everyone else who has helped in enabling this very important peace, making the future even brighter,” Gantz said.

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