(October 5, 2020 / JNS) Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) introduced bipartisan legislation last week to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME) amid the Trump administration seeking to offer F-35 jets to the United Arab Emirates. The sale of the fighter jets comes in the aftermath of Abu Dhabi normalizing ties with the Jewish state.
It would also require the president to consult with the Israeli government to ensure that concerns are settled and to submit a determination to Congress on the QME impact of a given sale within 60 days of its formal notification.
Although it is already U.S. law that Israel retain a QME in the Middle East, Congress—and not Israel—decides whether arms sales to the region meet QME standards.
The bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Ami Bera (D-Fla.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), David Trone (D-Md.), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.), Elaine Luria (D-Va.), Max Rose (D-N.Y.), Gil Cisneros (D-Calif.) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.).
“Since the Lyndon Johnson administration, maintaining Israel’s QME has been a bedrock of Israel’s security strategy and American foreign policy, and has been codified in law for well over a decade,” said Schneider in a statement. “Israel is our single most important ally in the Middle East, and Congress will not let any president undermine her security with unapproved weapons sales. This bill strengthens that commitment and reminds the administration of its obligations under the law.”
“The recent negotiations and signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain is a historic step towards a lasting peace in the Middle East, a region that has seen constant conflict for generations. For decades, Israel has been a key strategic ally and friend of the United States, and it is crucial that we do everything we can to support our allies,” said Fitzpatrick. “Despite the incredible steps towards peace that have been made, there are still plenty of entities that wish to harm Israel. This is why it is so important that we support Israel and help to preserve its Qualitative Military Edge (QME), to ensure the safety of the Israeli people and maintain stability in the region.”
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