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

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

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood