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Gantz reiterates call on US to maintain Israel’s 'military edge' amid F-35 dispute with UAE

White House adviser Jared Kushner, flanked by aide Avi Berkowitz (L) and Washington’s special envoy on Iran, Brian Hook, are seen during a press briefing on the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates at White House in Washington, August 13, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

Israeli minister of military affairs, Benny Gantz, has called on Washington to maintain Tel Aviv's “military edge” in the Middle East amid Israel’s fears of possible sales of F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates.

“We will work in partnership to advance further agreements and find the right ways to ensure that our military superiority is maintained while safeguarding Israel’s security,” the minister told a visiting US delegation on Sunday.

Gantz’s remarks come after Tel Aviv spoke out against Abu Dhabi’s potential acquisition of American F-35 warplanes despite a normalization deal between the two sides. The move apparently angered Abu Dhabi, prompting the Emirati envoy to the UN to snub a meeting with his Israeli and American counterparts.

As per America’s Israel policy, Washington has to take protecting Israel’s security into consideration before selling any weapons to countries in the Middle East region.

With that in mind, the US has so far sold 16 of the warplanes to the occupying regime and plans to add dozens more to the fleet.

Gantz made the remarks during a meeting with US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, Washington’s special envoy on Iran, Brian Hook, and "peace" envoy Avi Berkowitz, who are on a tour to the region to push Arab-Israeli rapprochement after Israel and the UAE reached a normalization deal.

“I would like to personally thank Jared Kushner and the delegation for their constructive efforts to establish peace in our region and for the American commitment to Israeli security. I look forward to continuing to work together to advance the strategic interests and joint values shared by” Tel Aviv and Washington, Gantz said.

Israel’s foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi, who also attended that meeting, said in his own statement, the sides discussed “the window of opportunity that has opened for far-reaching strategic changes in the Middle East, the importance of establishing an Israeli embassy in the UAE, and the need to involve additional countries in this process.”

The American officials and an Israeli delegation were to board Israel's first direct flight between Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport and the UAE's capital Abu Dhabi on Monday to meet UAE officials and further advance the normalization deal.

Israel and the UAE on August 13 reached a deal that will lead to a full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two sides, in an agreement apparently brokered by US President Donald Trump.

According to the accord, Israeli and UAE delegations are to hold meetings and sign bilateral agreements covering sectors including investment, tourism and direct flights and the opening of reciprocal embassies.

The agreement sparked anger in the Middle East and elsewhere, with Palestinian leaders describing it as a “stab in the back” by an Arab country.

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