06:37 GMT +316 December 2019
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    Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (R) presents U.S. President Donald Trump (C) with the Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud Medal at the Royal Court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 20, 2017. Picture taken May 20, 2017

    Dulling Their Edge? Israel Not Happy About Trump’s Massive Arms Deal With Saudis

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    Israeli ministers on Sunday expressed concern over a massive arms deal reached between the US and Saudi Arabia, saying it could make it difficult for Israel to maintain its so-called qualitative military edge.

    During his first official visit to Saudi Arabia, US President Donald Trump signed his name to a historic deal with the world's second largest importer of weapons that could total up to $350 billion worth of arms.

    Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said before the weekly cabinet meeting that the agreement with the Saudis is a matter that really should trouble Israel.

    "Saudi Arabia is a hostile country and we must ensure that Israel's qualitative military edge is preserved," he said, adding that Washington should have consulted with Israel before inking the deal.

    "Hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons deals is something we should receive explanations about."

    Intelligence Minister Israel Katz voiced similar concerns, saying that although Trump's visit helps strengthen anti-Iranian alliances in the region, it is essential that Israel's qualitative military edge in the Middle East is maintained.

    According to the White House, the deal between the US and Saudi Arabia is aimed at boosting the kingdom's defense capabilities in the face of the threat coming from Iran and supporting its efforts to counter terrorist groups operating in the region. It demonstrates America's commitment to its partnership with the kingdom while also expanding opportunities for American companies in the region, the statement read.

    The package includes top-tier equipment and services such as missiles, bombs, armored personnel carriers, Patriot and THAAD anti-missile systems and multi-mission surface combatant ships.

    Last September, Israel and the US signed a military aid deal that at the time was considered "historic." The agreement promised $38 billion in military assistance over 10 years, from 2019 through 2028.

    At least $7 billion within the Memorandum of Understanding was earmarked for purchasing 50 of the F-35s, to make two full IAF squadrons by 2022. The joint strike fighter, beset as it has been with problems, has been touted as being instrumental in giving Israel complete air superiority in the region for the next 40 years.    


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