Ongoing U.S. commitment to Israel’s military edge preserved in Fitzpatrick, Katko bill

Amid reports of U.S. sales of advanced defense technology to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and John Katko (R-NY) introduced bipartisan legislation reiterating American law supporting Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME).

“Despite the incredible steps towards peace that have been made, there are still plenty of entities that wish to harm Israel,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said. “This is why it is so important that we support Israel and help to preserve its QME, to ensure the safety of the Israeli people and maintain stability in the region.”

The U.S. commitment to maintain Israel’s QME, which is the technological, tactical, and other advantages that allow it to deter numerically superior adversaries, is a long-standing tradition that every president since Lyndon Johnson has reiterated, according to the Washington Institute. Today, ensuring Israel’s QME also means the U.S. government must consider the impact of its regional arms sales on Israel’s security.

Last month, however, U.S. President Donald Trump said he has no problem with a possible U.S. sale of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to the UAE, a move Israel says would undermine its QME in the Middle East.

The Guaranteeing Israel’s QME Act of 2020, H.R. 8494, which Reps. Fitzpatrick and Katko introduced on Oct. 1 as original cosponsors with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), garnered 15 other original cosponsors, including U.S. Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY). 

H.R. 8494 would reiterate the requirement for congressional consultation on arms sales to the Middle East that could impact Israel’s QME, and would require the U.S. president to consult with the Israeli government to ensure QME concerns are settled, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers. The measure also would require the president to submit a determination to Congress on the QME impact of a given sale within 60 days of its formal notification.

Introduction of the bill comes amid recent negotiations and signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel, the UAE, and the Kingdom of Bahrain, an agreement that Rep. Fitzpatrick called a historic step toward a lasting peace in the Middle East. “For decades, Israel has been a key strategic ally and friend of the United States,” the lawmaker said, “and it is crucial that we do everything we can to support our allies.”

Rep. Katko also applauded the historic accords, but said he “firmly” believes the United States must continue supporting Israel to ensure safety and security in the region. 

“Providing Israel with the most advanced defense technology provides an edge over those that would do them harm, and maintains our support for our strongest ally in the region,” said Rep. Katko.