Gantz tells Esper normalization deals enable Israel to better counter Iran

Defense Minister Benny Gantz says Israel is better situated to confront Iran in the Middle East in light of its normalized ties with two Arab countries, and expresses hopes to formalize relations with others.

“Now that we are entering an era of positive normalization processes in the Middle East, which actually can face an aggressive Iran across the region, this ability of continued cooperation is so very important,” Gantz says during a visit to Washington.

During his trip to the US capital, Gantz met with his American counterpart Mark Esper to discuss, among other things, proposed sales of F-35 fighter jets and other weaponry to the United Arab Emirates and the potential impact this could have on Israel’s military advantage in the region, known formally as its qualitative military edge (QME), which the US is legally obligated to maintain.

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz at the Knesset, May 17, 2020. (Alex Kolomoisky/POOL)

Following his meeting with Esper, the two signed a document reaffirming Washington’s commitment to ensuring Israel’s QME, which appeared to be more of a symbolic gesture than one with practical ramifications, as this responsibility is already enshrined in US law.

“Indeed, over the last few weeks, you and I led, together with other people, very good and very important discussions that reassure the bipartisan commitment to Israel’s QME. I want to thank you and your people, and the American Administration, for supporting it,” Gantz says.

“It was important for me once again to reaffirm the special relationship between our two countries, the commitment we have made to Israel’s security based on our shared values, our shared history; and I want to thank you for your personal efforts in the past few weeks,” Esper says.

— Judah Ari Gross