(October 21, 2020 / JNS) Two Senate Democrats introduced a bill on Tuesday to reassert congressional oversight over the possible sale of sophisticated and mission-critical American military systems that the Trump administration plans to sell to the United Arab Emirates—namely, F-35 jets.
The move comes after Abu Dhabi has normalized ties with Jerusalem as part of the Abraham Accords.
Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced the Secure F-35 Exports Act of 2020 that seeks to ensure that any sale will not proceed with the delivery of aircraft unless and until the president can make detailed certifications to Congress that U.S. technology and Israeli security are fully protected.
“Ensuring that the United States and its crucial partner in the Middle East, Israel, maintain their critical qualitative military advantages over all potential adversaries is enshrined in law and must be one of the highest priorities of any president and Congress; this rush to close an F-35 deal by President [Donald] Trump before the end of his term could well undermine that objective,” said Menendez.
“This legislation would require that a fair, comprehensive and soberly deliberative consideration of any such sale takes place, shorn of extraneous political or other interests,” he continued.
“Congress has an obligation to make sure that the most sophisticated U.S. weaponry be limited to our use and that of our most trusted allies,” said Feinstein. “That’s why this legislation places significant limits on this or any future administration’s ability to sell the F-35 aircraft to the Middle East, where it could threaten our interests and Israel’s military edge in the region.”
F-35 sales usually take years to finalize and deliver, thereby allowing a new U.S. presidential administration sufficient time to halt such deals. Any sale would also require congressional approval. It is already U.S. law that Israel maintain its Qualitative Military Edge in the Middle East.
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