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US will give new F-35 jets to Israel next year: Biden

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A row of parked Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 fighter jets

The United States will begin the delivery of new F-35 fighter jets to Israel next year, Vice President Joe Biden says.

Addressing an Israeli Independence Day reception in Washington on Thursday, Biden said, "Next year, we will deliver to Israel the F-35."

He said Israel would be the only one in the Middle East to have America’s “fifth-generation aircraft”.

Biden added that the United States wants Israel to maintain its "qualitative edge" over its rivals.

Under a $3 billion contract inked between Tel Aviv and Washington in February, the US agreed to sell 14 more F-35 aircraft to Israel.  

In 2010, Israel signed a contract with the US to buy nineteen F-35s manufactured by US defense contractor Lockheed Martin, for $2.75 billion.

The delivery of the first batch of the jets will start by the end of 2016 and will continue to 2021.

US Vice President Joe Biden: "Next year, we will deliver to Israel the F-35."

In his speech at Israel's embassy on Thursday, Biden attempted to downplay the bad blood between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"We're like family. We have a lot to say to one another. Sometimes we drive each other crazy, but we love each other — and we protect each other," Biden said.

The Obama administration is angry at Netanyahu for accepting a Republican invitation to address Congress on March 3 about Iran’s nuclear energy program without consulting the White House as well as excessive Israeli lobby interference in American foreign policy.

Israel faces deepening tension and isolation in its relations with the US and Europe over Netanyahu’s opposition on the formation of a Palestinian state.

Nevertheless, America's support for Israel still has strong bipartisan backing in Congress. The US provides Israel over $3 billion in annual military aid as well as other forms of assistance.


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