Netanyahu denies he agreed to sale of warplanes to UAE

An Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jet flies during an aerial show at the Hatzerim Air Base in the Negev Desert, Dec. 29, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90) 

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied a report by the New York Times claiming he had privately agreed to the sale of F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates.

In an article published Friday, the Times, citing unidentified officials of unspecified nationality, reported that Netanyahu had gone along with the weapons sale as part of the recently brokered agreement to normalize relations with the UAE despite public statements to the contrary.

In a statement to media Friday, Netanyahu said the report was untrue.

“Repeating a falsehood doesn’t make it true,” Netanyahu said. “At no point during talks with the U.S. did I agree to arms sale.”

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According to the Times, Netanyahu stopped publicly complaining about the proposed arms sale after a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Jerusalem last week.

On Aug. 13, Netanyahu announced that Israel would normalize relations with the UAE. On Aug. 19, the Times published an article saying the United States was pushing the sale of the advanced F-35 fighter jets to the UAE despite Israeli concerns. Israel is currently the only country in the Middle East in possession of those jets.

Netanyahu had previously denied reports that he had agreed to the sale in the framework of the normalization agreement. The officials cited in the more recent Times article say that claim is false.

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