An Israeli cabinet minister said that a U.S. sale of advanced F-35 warplanes to Qatar could be possible despite Israel’s objections to such a deal given the Gulf state’s links to Iran and Palestinian Hamas.
“I have no doubt that if they want it and are willing to pay, sooner or later they will get it,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who sits in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet, told Ynet TV.
“This is a supposition that we must take into account,” he said, arguing that the U.S. administration “ultimately looks out for American interests,” especially in the face of rival stealth jets on offer from Russia and China.
U.S. officials have been open to selling the F-35 to the United Arab Emirates after it and Bahrain normalised relations with Israel on Sept. 15. But they have been tight-lipped on Qatar’s bid to buy the jet.
Successive U.S. administrations have sought to preserve Israeli military superiority in the region. Steinitz noted, however, that there had been past U.S. sales of advanced aircraft to Arab countries over Israeli objections.
There has been speculation in Israeli media that the Trump administration could hold out the F-35 as an inducement for Qatar to normalise ties with Israel. Qatar has ruled out such a diplomatic move without a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.