Pompeo: F-35 was ‘critical’ to UAE-Israel deal

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompe has said that the sale of F-35 aircraft to the UAE was “a critical part” of the normalization deal between Abu Dhabi, Israel and Washington.

In an interview in Yediot Ahronot, portions of which were published Thursday morning, Pompeo contradicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s contention that the sale of the F-35 aircraft was not a core component of the August 2020 trilateral negotiations.

Netanyahu has tried to present the UAE deal as “peace for peace” to reject the paradigm in which Arab states only make peace or normalize with Israel if they receive land or some other sweetener in advance.

The prime minister has also de-emphasized his suspension of his plans to annex the West Bank on July 1, 2020, saying the option was still open to him – though the UAE has said its normalization deal took that completely off the table.

Previously, Israeli intelligence sources had told The Jerusalem Post that the F-35 deal was an important part of the UAE agreement and had pushed back against criticism by the Defense Ministry, saying they were in the loop. Further the sources had said selling cutting-edge technology to Middle Eastern countries like the UAE was no longer rare.

Former Trump administration senior adviser Jared Kushner had also said that the F-35 deal was a key part of the deal, but Pompeo has been seen as extremely closer personally to key officials in the Netanyahu government.

Despite Pompeo’s statements, other Israeli officials have told the Post that the F-35 sale was still not part of the deal from the Israeli perspective and that aspects of the negotiations were bilateral between the US and the UAE.

The former US secretary of state was not criticizing that aspect of the deal as much as he was emphasizing it as part of a series of actions which built trust with the Emiratis.

Other actions which Pompeo said increased UAE interest in normalization with Israel by building trust that the Trump administration “was serious, determined…and could be relied on,” included the assassination of Iran Quds Force Chief Qasem Soleimani and its many actions recognizing Israeli rights in Jerusalem and in the West Bank.

Next, he said that selling an air defense system to Saudi Arabia also opened space for the UAE to make its daring move since the Saudis are the leading power among the Gulf countries.

Pompeo also criticized Biden, characterizing him as insufficiently supportive of Israel.

Despite Biden publicly supporting Israel during the May 10-21 Gaza War, Pompeo said that the administration was undermining Israel by seeking to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal which would free up billions for Iranian terror and by strengthening aspects of the US-Palestinian relationship which go against Netanyahu government policy.






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