The Pentagon announcements of the Arab requests, which require approval
by Congress, came hours after the White House said Obama would press for the
extension of Israel's freeze on Jewish construction in the West Bank and
most of Jerusalem. White House aides said Obama would meet Netanyahu on July
6 amid enhanced Israeli-U.S. cooperation in intelligence, missile defense
The administration has not approved an Israeli request for offensive
military platforms since Obama took office in January 2009. Instead, the
White House endorsed nearly $13 billion worth of Arab arms requests last
year, and nearly $10 billion from Turkey.
Currently, the administration has been examining a request from Saudi
Arabia for the sale of 75 F-15 fighter-jets as well as the modernization of
scores of other aircraft, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said the deal was worth more than $10
billion and approved during the visit to Washington by Saudi King Abdullah
in late June.
The Israeli daily Haaretz said Netanyahu was expected to express
opposition to the proposed Saudi deal. The newspaper said Israel has been
concerned that Riyad would acquire the same aircraft operated by the Israel
The Defense Department agency has reported two military requests by
Egypt. In the first, Obama approved Cairo's request for U.S. equipment to help upgrade
Egypt's Skyguard air defense system. In another project, the Egyptian Navy would
receive support for its fleet of U.S.-origin warships.
"This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national
security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a
friendly country which has been and continues to be an important force for
political stability and economic progress in the Middle East," DSCA said.
The biggest request was submitted by Tunisia. The North African state
received administration approval to upgrade U.S.-origin helicopters in a
deal estimated at $282 million.
Under the request, Tunisia would acquire 12 U.S. military surplus SH-60F
helicopters as part of the air force modernization by the North African
This marked the first approval by Obama of a major military project for
The administration also approved support and training for air transports
sold to Oman. Under the request, the Royal Air Force of Oman would receive
help in absorbing two C-130J-30 air transports, procured under a commercial
sale with Lockheed Martin.
"In the security side of things, the commitment of this administration
to Israel's qualitative military edge has been — through programs such as
the Iron Dome [missile defense program], and through a very close contact
through our national security teams is evidence of really a deepening of
cooperation," Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told a briefing on
"The administration is conducting open and completely transparent talks
with Israel on the matter, and we are updating Israel on any planned deal to
hear its reservations," a U.S. official told Haaretz. "We believe that there
are many cases in which the Iranian threat commits us to strengthen the
ability of states in the region to defend themselves."