JERUSALEM

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks Monday with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who arrived in Israel as part of a regional tour.

The talks dwelt on the normalization of ties between Israel and other Arab states following this month’s US-sponsored deal to normalize relations between Tel Aviv and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“I discussed with Secretary of State Pompeo the possibility of normalizing additional countries’ relations with Israel, and I hope that there will be good news in the near future,” Netanyahu told a joint press conference.

He said the Israel-UAE deal “opened a new phase in the Middle East”.

“The agreement with the United Arab Emirates did not include any Israeli approval of any arms agreements,” Netanyahu stressed.

On August 18, the Israeli premier renewed his government’s opposition to selling the US F-35 aircrafts to the UAE.

At that time, he said: “From the beginning, the Israeli prime minister refused to sell F-35 fighter jets and other advanced weapons to countries in the region, whatever they are, including Arab countries that make peace with the State of Israel.”

Since 2011, UAE has been seeking to acquire F-35 fighter jets, but the administration of former US President Barack Obama was refusing to do so, while President Donald Trump’s administration agreed in 2017 to consider Abu Dhabi’s request to enter into initial talks on buying the planes.

On the other hand, Netanyahu welcomed Trump’s recent announcement of the “snapback” mechanism which aims to re-impose all the UN sanctions on Iran.

He said that in addition to Israel, Arab countries feel the Iranian threat.

For his part, Pompeo stressed that his country “will continue to adhere to the Israeli military superiority in the region.”

“The United States has legal requirements regarding military superiority, and we will respect that,” Pompeo said, referring to Israel’s refusal to sell F-35 fighter jets to Abu Dhabi.

“We have a security relationship of more than 20 years with the UAE as well,” he added.

Pompeo’s regional tour will also take him to Sudan, Bahrain and the UAE.

The UAE-Israeli normalization deal was met with Palestinian outcry from all resistance factions, while the Palestinian leadership considering it a “betrayal by UAE for Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and the [Palestinian] cause.”

*Bassel Barakat contributed to this report from Ankara

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