WASHINGTON (JTA) — The United States plans to sell F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, but made clear to an anxious Israel that it won’t include long-range weapons systems.
The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that the Obama administration said it would sell 84 F-15 planes to Saudi Arabia in a 10-year, $30 billion deal.
U.S. officials clarified to Israeli officials who expressed concerns that this would undermine Israel’s military advantage in the region that the deal would not include long-range weapons systems or other arms. The U.S. officials made it clear that Washington did not make changes to the deal at Israel’s request. Haaretz reported that Israeli fears were assuaged after U.S. officials clarified the details.
Israel and Washington have held meetings over the past 18 months on maintaining Israel’s security advantage in the Middle East. The Saudi deal, which the Obama administration is expected to formally announce next month, had been a source of tension at many of the meetings, according to the Journal.
Israeli officials reportedly will not lobby Congress to stop the deal; Congress has the power to block any weapons sales it thinks might pose a threat to Israel’s military advantage.
The Obama administration wants to sell advanced weapons to Middle Eastern countries as a way to check Iranian power, and the Saudi deal would be one of the largest of its kind.
Saudi Arabia has become one of the top weapons buyers in the world.