The United States will ensure that Israel still holds a military advantage in the Middle East under any future U.S. arms deals with the United Arab Emirates, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday, as he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.
"The United States has a legal requirement with respect to qualitative military edge. We will continue to honor that," Pompeo said.
Netanyahu said he had been reassured on the issue by Pompeo, whose visit to Jerusalem is the first leg of a regional tour that will showcase U.S. support for Israeli-Arab peace efforts and building a front against Iran.
His tour will include Sudan, Bahrain and the UAE, the latter having reached recent agreement for normalized ties with Israel. Additional stops in the Gulf were also possible, the State Department said.
Pompeo said he hoped other Arab countries would also establish diplomatic relations with Israel.
"I am hopeful that we will see other Arab nations join in this," Pompeo said.
"The opportunity for them to work alongside, to recognize the State of Israel and to work alongside them will not only increase Middle East stability, but it will improve the lives for the people of their own countries as well."
In the Sudan leg of his trip, the secretary of state said he would push for “deepening the Sudan-Israel relationship.”
The Israel-UAE agreement reflects a changing Middle East in which shared concerns about archenemy Iran have largely overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians.
Both Pompeo and Netanyahu criticized the lack of international support for the U.S. demand for the restoration of United Nations sanctions against Iran.
The Trump administration has been pushing at the Security Council to have so-called "snapback" sanctions imposed on Iran over what Washington says is Iran's violation of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
"We are determined to use every tool that we have to ensure they can't get access to high-end weapon systems," Pompeo said.
"The rest of the world should join us."
The Israel-UAE deal to establish full diplomatic relations also requires Israel to freeze its plans to annex parts of the West Bank sought by the Palestinians as part of their future state.
Pompeo was also to meet with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi in Jerusalem.
First published: 10:05, 08.24.20