Israeli Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz has reached an agreement with US Defense Secretary Mark Esper to form a committee in the Pentagon that would ensure Israel’s military supremacy and to compensate the Israeli army for the decision to conclude a modern arms deal with the UAE army.
In a statement, the US Department of Defense said that Esper promised Gantz that the United States “would maintain Israel’s qualitative edge in the Middle East.” He made the promise at the beginning of a Pentagon meeting with the Israeli leader.
According to the statement, Esper stressed that Israel was America’s most important strategic partner in the Middle East.
“Our partnership is built over generations based on shared values, shared interests, and shared concerns,” he said.
Sources, who accompanied Gantz during his visit to Washington, said that the latter did not only discuss the arms deal with the UAE, but also “the common vision for dealing with the Iranian file and the requirements of this vision at the current stage.”
Gantz also met during his 24-hour visit with the US president’s advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, and the US Chief of Staff, General Mark Milley.
“We are grateful for the US efforts to bring peace and its commitment to Israel’s military supremacy,” he said following his meeting with Kushner.
According to sources in Tel Aviv, Gantz carried a series of new demands made by a team composed of the Ministry of Security and the Army Command headed by General Tomer Bar, a candidate to lead the Israeli Air Force.
A report by Reuters on Tuesday revealed that the United States and the UAE were hoping to have an initial agreement on the sale of F-35 stealth fighter jets to the Gulf state in place by December.
Sources close to the negotiations said the goal was to have a letter of agreement in place in time for UAE National Day celebrated on Dec. 2.
On Wednesday, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman reassured Israelis that the country’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME) was not at risk.
“The Emirates have been trying to get F-35s for six or seven years,” said Friedman in a recorded interview.
“The delivery time is probably another six or seven years from now,” he added.