US vows to help Israel keep military edge in Middle East
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper promised Tuesday to help maintain Israel's military superiority in the Middle East, amid the occupying regime’s concerns over a possible sale of US-made F-35 war planes to the United Arab Emirates.
"A cornerstone of our defense relationship is preserving Israel's qualitative military edge in the region," Esper said as he met Israel’s minister of military affairs Benny Gantz at the US Defense Department, also known as the Pentagon.
"The United States is committed to that, and the Department of Defense is committed to that imperative," the Pentagon chief added.
The question of whether the United States will sell the advanced fighters to the UAE has worried Israel despite the recent normalization of ties.
Last week, the UAE and Bahrain signed contentious US-mediated normalization deals with Israel at the White House.
US President Donald Trump said at the time that he would have "no problem" selling F-35 warplanes to the United Arab Emirates, despite objections from Israel.
Israel has long opposed the sale of F-35s to any US allies in the region including Jordan and Egypt, both of whom already recognize Israel.
Such a sale would erode Israel's supposed military advantage over its neighbors.
Since the 1960s, the US policy has been that Israel should maintain a "qualitative military edge" (QME), and the concept has been formalized in legislation from the US Congress.
But the UAE has sought for several years to purchase the advanced fighter jets.
US military aid to Israel has skyrocketed over the past several years while the regime’s forces are engaged in blatant human rights violations against Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere.
The United States and Israel signed an agreement in September 2016 to
give Israel $38 billion in military assistance over the next decade, the
largest such aid package in US history.
Since taking office in 2017, Trump has been showering Israel with political gifts, including recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as its “capital” and moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied city as well as cutting aid to the Palestinians and closing the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington.002