Trump’s arrangement to sell F-35 warplanes to the United Arab Emirates has prompted Israel to issue a list of demands – including must-have advanced aircraft and other accouterments.
by Kathryn Shihadah
The United States continues to use the American taxpayers’ expense account to prioritize Israel’s aspirations. Close on the heels of the so-called Abraham Accords earlier this month, which normalized relations between Israel and the Arab states of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Trump administration is formulating plans to essentially purchase another Arab-Israeli “peace” treaty.
In addition, the U.S. is likely to hand Israel billions of dollars in free military equipment.
Trump’s post-Abraham Accords arrangement to sell F-35 warplanes to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has prompted Israel to issue a list of demands – must-have advanced aircraft and other accouterments that would enable Israel to maintain its Qualitative Military Edge (QME) in the region.
Israel’s QME, the commitment by the U.S. to assure Israel’s ability to overcome any and all military threats with minimal casualties, has been enshrined in U.S. law since 2008 and is expressed today as $3.8 billion in military aid, about a quarter of the $15 billion distributed worldwide.
These “gifts” would be in addition to the $3.8 billion a year Israel already receives in military aid from the U.S. – money that ought to be withheld according to the Leahy Laws, legislation that seeks to put a paywall between American aid and military groups that perpetrate gross human rights violations.
Trump’s plan to sell warplanes, and Israel’s demands, reportedly came up just hours before the Foreign Ministers of Bahrain and the UAE were to sign the Abraham Accords, although some sources report that Israel’s Netanyahu knew about the U.S. plan to sell to the UAE much earlier.
Treaty in the works
The Trump administration is also scurrying to assemble a treaty between Israel and Sudan ahead of U.S. elections, again at great benefit to Israel and expense to the American taxpayer.
According to Sudanese political analyst Khalil Abdul Jabbar, the Sudanese people typically would stand with the Palestinians rather than accepting normalization with Israel – but they need the help that Washington could offer to improve their economic situation.
Abdul Jabbar indicated that Trump hoped to capitalize on Sudan’s dire economic situation ahead of the 2020 election.
Sudan is struggling under $62 billion in foreign debt, brought about in large part because of its designation as a state sponsor of terrorism (SST) – a label that goes back to 1993 and has resulted in punishing global sanctions.
Sudan hopes to receive an initial infusion of $3 billion in U.S. aid, plus removal from the SST list, in exchange for normalized relations with Israel. Additional aid would likely follow.
Terror attack compensation
There is concern that Capitol Hill would block the removal of Sudan from the SST list: some members of Congress want first to see the country pay more than $300 million to American victims of terror attacks in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, as well as the attack on the USS Cole in 2000. The now-ousted Omar al-Bashir allowed al-Qaeda terrorists to reside in Sudan and carry out attacks in the region.
What about the Palestinians?
UAE leaders were apparently under the impression that their treaty with Israel would benefit the Palestinians: its foreign minister, Abdullah bin Zayed declared at the September 15th signing ceremony:
Your Excellency Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel, thank you for choosing peace and for halting the annexation of Palestinian territories, a decision that reinforces our shared will to achieve a better future for generations to come…
And as for us in the United Arab Emirates, this accord will enable us to continue to stand by the Palestinian people and realize their hopes for an independent state within a stable and prosperous region.”
But Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had already made clear a month or earlier that “There is no change in my plan to apply sovereignty, our sovereignty, in Judea and Samaria [the Palestinian West Bank], in full coordination with the US. I’m committed to it, this hasn’t changed…This issue remains on the table.”
Some analysts conclude that the Palestinians’ aspiration for freedom from occupation and oppression has been out of the picture all along because their interests are irrelevant – that the Arab world has begun to exchange solidarity with Palestine for economic advantage. One commentator opined, “The UAE-Israel accord said nothing about the Palestinians because the issue was never the Palestinians. Indeed, they are the down payment.”
Rumors abound and have been confirmed by American Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft, that another Arab country – Oman – may follow the growing crowd of states exchanging Palestine for economic advantage.
Feature photo | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks as President Donald Trump looks on, during the Abraham Accords signing ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, Sept. 15, 2020, in Washington. Alex Brandon | AP
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