U.S. obtained promise from Saudis not to use weapons purchased in $110 billion deal against U.S. allies • Deal coordinated with Israel, Egypt, Jordan and other U.S. allies, says Arab official • Israeli minister: Deal must not erode Israel’s military edge.
President Donald Trump with King Salman of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh, Saturday | Photo credit: Reuters
The United States demanded that Saudi Arabia agree that weapons purchased from America in the deal signed on Saturday will not be used against U.S. allies in the region, Israel Hayom learned Monday.
Saudi officials agreed and provided the pledge, paving the way for one of the biggest arms deals in Middle East history.
The nearly $110 billion deal was the central achievement of Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia over the weekend. Under the agreements, Saudi Arabia will buy U.S. arms to help it counter Iran, with options running as high as $350 billion over 10 years.
On Sunday, Israel expressed muted concern over the deal. While Israel also sees Iran as a threat to its security, it fears that the deal could diminish its regional military advantage.
“This is a matter that really should trouble us,” Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said prior to the weekly cabinet meeting, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no mention of the deal in his customary public remarks.
A senior U.S. official traveling with Trump said Washington understands what he described as Israel’s “completely legitimate” concerns, and pledged to help the Jewish state maintain its military advantage.
“We’re taking a whole bunch of measures, some apparent, some not so apparent, to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge. That will in no way be compromised,” the official told Reuters.
“You’ll hear a really strong statement from the president on his commitment to Israel and to Israel’s defense,” the official added.
According to senior officials in the Egyptian and Jordanian security apparatuses, the arms deal was made in coordination with Israel, Egypt, Jordan and other U.S. allies in the region. The officials said the deal would have been signed regardless of opposition from the U.S.’s allies, but in light of their fears the Americans resolved to insist on a guarantee from Saudi Arabia.
In the 1980s, Israel expressed its concern at a U.S. sale to Saudi Arabia of advanced F-15 fighter jets that were stationed at a Red Sea airfield. But the desert kingdom has never threatened to use them against Israel.