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US lawmakers propose bill allowing Israel to veto arms sales to Arab countries

Democratic Representative Brad Schneider is the sponsor of the bill [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 October, 2020

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A bipartisan bill proposes to give Israel to veto any US arms sales to Arab countries, which could prove a major obstacle to the planned US-UAE weapons deal
US lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives on Friday that would effectively allow Israel to veto any US arms sales to Middle Eastern countries in a bid to strengthen its quantitative military edge in the region.
The proposed measure "would require the President to consult with the Israeli government to ensure [qualitative military edge] concerns are settled" in respect to weapons sales to Middle Eastern countries, a statement from the office of lead sponsor Representative Brad Schneider (D-Ill) said.

The US is already bound by law to guarantee Israel a quantitative military edge over in the region, however this is currently judged by Congress, not Israel.

If the bill is passed, it could throw a spanner in the works of a lucrative arms deal the White House is drawing up with the UAE, to which Israeli officials are largely opposed.

The deal, which swiftly followed the UAE's normalisation agreement with Israel, includes cutting-edge weaponry such as F-35 fighter jets.

The UAE has been trying to procure F-35s, the most advanced jet in the US arsenal, for many years.

Top Israeli military and defence figures have voiced outcry over the sale, arguing it would endanger the country's military edge.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also condemned the sale, despite an investigation claiming he consented to it in a private meeting with US negotiators.

Read also: Will UAE-Israel deal draw Tel Aviv into Yemen's war?

The majority of the bill's sponsors are Democrats, including a number of Jewish representatives, including Schneider, Elaine Luria of Virginia, Max Rose of New York, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, and Ted Deutch and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, according to JTA.

Jewish Democrats also voiced concern after details of the US-UAE arms deal were made public.

AIPAC, the prominent pro-Israel lobby group, has issued support for the proposed measure.

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