Israel Shouldn’t Be Alarmed at the UAE’s Purchase of Advanced Fighter Jets, but It Would Be Dangerous to Let Qatar Have Them

Nov. 20 2020

By longstanding agreement, the United States has pledged to help Israel maintain its qualitative military edge (QME) over other countries in the region. Thus Washington’s decision to sell the F-35 fighter jet—the most advanced American aircraft—to the United Arab Emirates has raised concerns for some, despite Abu Dhabi’s friendliness toward the Jewish state. Yaakov Amidror sees no cause for alarm, so long as efforts are made to ensure that such sales don’t undermine Israel’s QME:

[T]hrough joint dialogue, there are creative ways to protect Israel’s QME while allowing the UAE to obtain the jets. For instance, some of the F-35’s software systems can be reserved for Israeli use.

[A more] significant concern with the UAE’s potential procurement of F-35s is that other countries may follow suit. For example, Qatar has already requested to purchase the jets. A sale to Doha, which has not normalized relations with Israel, remains extremely worrisome.

Qatar has supported radical Islamist groups across the Middle East, while its global media network Al Jazeera too often promotes their ideology. Doha also collaborates with Iran, which sows discord throughout the region, and maintains an intimate partnership with an increasingly belligerent Turkey. . . . Allowing Qatar to purchase the F-35s before it has formal diplomatic relations and real normalization with Israel would signal U.S. approval of Doha’s problematic policies, endanger Israel’s security, and encourage further regional procurement.

By shutting down the request, Washington could conversely hold Qatar accountable for its behavior and take a firm stance in support of Israel’s QME.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: IDF, Israeli Security, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, US-Israel relations

How Israel and Its Allies Could Have a Positive Influence on the Biden Administration’s Iran Policy

Nov. 25 2020

While the president-elect has expressed his desire to return the U.S. to the 2015 nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic, this should not in itself cause worry in Jerusalem; it has never been the Israeli government’s position that a deal with Tehran is undesirable, only that the flaws of the deal negotiated by the Obama administration outweighed its benefits. Thus Yaakov Amidror, Efraim Inbar, and Eran Lerman urge Israel to approach Joe Biden’s national-security team—whose senior members were announced this week—to urge them to act prudently:

To the greatest extent possible, such approaches should be made jointly, or in very close coordination with, Israel’s new partners in the Gulf. These countries share Israel’s perspectives on the Iranian regional threat and on the need to block Tehran’s path to nuclear weapons.

For Israel, for Iran-deal skeptics in Washington, and for her partners in the region, the first operational priority is to persuade the incoming U.S. national-security team to maintain full leverage on Iran. Sanctions against Iran should not be lifted as a “gesture” without a verified Iranian return to the status quo ante (at the very least) in terms of low-enriched-uranium stockpiles and ongoing enrichment activities.

In parallel, there may emerge a unique opportunity to close ranks with the French (and with Boris Johnson’s government in London) on the Iranian question. On several issues (above all, the struggle for hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean, against Turkey), Jerusalem, Abu Dhabi, and Paris now see eye-to-eye. On Iran, during the negotiations leading to the [deal] in 2015, the position of France was often the most robust. In 2018, President Macron was willing to reach an operational understanding with Secretary of State Pompeo on [key issues regarding the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities].

Last but certainly not least, it should be clear to the incoming U.S. national-security team that any attempt to negotiate must be, can be, and (as far as Israel is concerned) firmly will be backed by a credible military threat.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: France, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, US-Israel relations