Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday appeared to confirm that Israel has given its consent for the United States to sell F35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates following a recent agreement establishing diplomatic relations between the Mideast countries.
The expected sale would make the UAE the first Arab nation – and just the second country in the Middle East after Israel –to possess the stealth warplanes.
Netanyahu has insisted the deal establishing ties with the UAE amounted to "peace for peace" and that arms deals were not part of the agreement. But Emirati officials have indicated there were understandings on the matter, and US President Donald Trump has said the US was considering the Emirati request for the planes.
Netanyahu said the sale only came up after the diplomatic pact with the UAE was signed at the White House last month.
"Only after signing the agreement, the Americans told us that the Emirates, which always asks for F-35s, is asking permission from us to consider this thing practically," Netanyahu said.
He said Israel sent a professional delegation to Washington for talks at the Pentagon and gave its consent after receiving assurances that the US would continue to guarantee Israel's military edge in the region.
"Only yesterday did we give our approval to this deal," Netanyahu said.
The UAE deal has been hailed by the US and Israel as a historic breakthrough. It paved the way for Bahrain and on Friday, Sudan, to follow suit in establishing formal diplomatic ties with Israel.
Israelis have welcomed the agreement with the UAE, but word that the US intended to sell F-35s to the Emirates proved controversial.