Israel’s protests reportedly have delayed a U.S. arms sale to Saudi Arabia. The New York Times reported Thursday that the State Department and Pentagon want to beef up the arsenal of Persian Gulf allies against Iran, but Israel is concerned that the weapons would upset the regional power balance and could fall into the hands of Islamist extremists. Several Israeli officials, including former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, have come to Washington in recent months to voice these concerns. Notifying Congress of the arms sale has been delayed until later this month; Congress then would have 30 days to approve or deny the deal. “Israel has expressed concern that this proposal could affect” its qualitative military edge over its antagonists, a Defense Department official was quoted as saying. “We don’t want to go to Congress until we’ve got everybody on board.” Sales to Saudi Arabia including tanks, warships and advanced air-defense systems could range from $5 billion to $10 billion. The next biggest recipient of U.S. weapons is reported to be the United Arab Emirates, which in 2000 bought 80 F-16 fighters for $18 billion. However, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries are more cautious this time around, according to Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East analyst with the Congressional Research Service. They “are not sure what the long-term U.S. commitment is, and they don’t want to be seen as ganging up on Iran in case we leave,” Katmzan said.
Report: Israeli concerns stall Saudi arms deal