Israel Still Seeking 20 Additional F-35 Fighter Planes

(Bloomberg) Gopal Ratnam and Viola Gienger - Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, said Tuesday his country is still seeking 20 additional U.S.-built F-35 fighter jets in addition to the 20 Israel ordered in October. "It was clear from the beginning that the 20 we were purchasing would not be enough and we'd require more" to help "Israel maintain its qualitative military edge" in the region. "The 90-day [settlement construction freeze] extension discussion is off the table, but the 20 extra jets are very much on the table," Oren said. "It's not attached to the 90-day freeze." Discussion on providing Israel with an additional 20 F-35 jets began around mid-year. "It wasn't a bribe, and was not intended to be a bribe, but part of ongoing discussions." Recent U.S. sales of weapons to the Middle East have eroded Israel's military edge, Oren said. In October, the Obama administration told Congress of plans to sell Saudi Arabia arms valued at $60 billion, the largest weapons sale in U.S. history.

2010-12-15 10:44:32

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