Report: Israel blocks US-Saudi arms deal
Israel has stalled an American plan to sell advanced weaponry, including satellite-guided arms, to Saudi Arabia, the New York Times reported Thursday.
The newspaper said on its website that Israeli officials, including former defense minister Shaul Mofaz, have strongly lobbied Washington in recent months to block parts of a planned arms package for the Saudis and unspecified others in the Middle East that could be worth five billion to 10 billion dollars.
Israel is mainly concerned that the United States will supply the Saudis with precision-guided air-based weapons that could erode Israel's military superiority in the region, the report said. "The Israeli complaints have introduced a new uncertainty into the (US) administration's plan to beef up Persian Gulf militaries as a bulwark against Iran and as a demonstration that, no matter what happens in Iraq, Washington remains committed to the Sunni Arab governments around the region," the Times said.
Israel worries both that closer ties envisioned between Washington and Tel Aviv on one side and Riyadh on the other might never happen; and that the Saudi authorities could give way by revolution to an Islamic fundamentalist government, it said.