Toronto - Prominent Israelis are expressing concern over the $110 billion arms deal the US and Saudi Arabia signed on Saturday.
Toronto – Prominent Israelis are expressing concern over the $110 billion arms deal the US and Saudi Arabia signed on Saturday.
Ahead of a weekly cabinet meeting, Israeli energy minister, Yuval Steinitz, called the deal “a matter that really should trouble us all.”
Israel has been enjoying a military edge over its Arab neighbours for some time and is worried that this deal represents an erosion of that advantage. At the same time, it acknowledges that creating an impenetrable bulwark against Iran’s nuclear ambitions is critical to the survival of the region.
Netanyahu himself has expressed a willingness to improve ties with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries but is reluctant to relinquish Israel’s military advantage.
Asserting that the Trump administration understands these concerns, a US State Department official was quoted by Reuters as saying: “We’re taking a whole bunch of measures, some apparent some not so apparent, to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge. That will in no way be compromised.”
In addition to these assurances, the official promised that Trump will soon be releasing a statement aimed at assuring Israel. “You’ll hear a really strong statement from the president on his commitment to Israel and to Israel’s defense.”
Israeli Intelligence Minister, Israel Katz, was not so easily convinced and labelled Saudi Arabia as a “hostile” country. “Saudi Arabia is a hostile country and we must ensure that Israel’s qualitative military edge should be maintained. Hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons deals is something we should receive explanations about.”
Steinitz appears to agree with his colleague. “We have also to make sure that those hundreds of billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia will not, by any means, erode Israel’s qualitative edge, because Saudi Arabia is still a hostile country without any diplomatic relations and nobody knows what the future will be,” the minister said.
The arms deal signed on Saturday encompasses five areas, namely border and coastal security, cyber security, communications technology, modernization of the Saudi air force as well as air and missile defense, according to the State Department.
With Saudi Arabia ranks as the second largest importer of weaponry in the world and the US being the world’s foremost exporter of arms, it seems like a match made in military heaven.
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has offered no public reaction but has promised to discuss the issue in the next cabinet meeting.