Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Sunday that Saudi Arabia and Qatar will sooner or later acquire modern U.S.-made F-35 fighters if they wish to do so.
Steinitz, a member of the cabinet security cabinet and one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest allies, expressed in an interview with Ynet, his conviction that Washington would eventually agree to export the F-35 to Doha and Riyadh if they were willing to pay.”
The minister, affiliated with Netanyahu’s Likud Party, reminded that the United States had previously sold the F-15 and F-16 fighters to the two Gulf states, which were considered at the time among the most recent warplanes of their kind.
He continued, “This should worry us. Israel has always expressed its concern and received, in some cases, limited compensation. Ultimately, these are the American interests that they seek to nurture.”
This comes against the backdrop of the UAE’s efforts to acquire F-35 fighters from the United States and deep disagreements within Israel in this regard.
A number of senior officials in Israel, including Defense Minister Benny Gantz, expressed their fears that this deal might undermine Israel’s military superiority in the region, while Prime Minister Netanyahu denied his secret agreement on it among the conditions that Abu Dhabi proposed to normalize relations with Tel Aviv.