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

November 20, 2020 | Yaakov Amidror
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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.

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