In the immediate aftermath of the historic normalization of relations between Israel, the U.A.E., and Bahrain, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz flew into Washington D.C. for a quick 24-hour visit with top American officials. They discussed how to maintain Israel’s qualitative edge in the Middle East and policies in relation to Iran.

“I’m heading to the U.S. for a series of very important defense meetings for the future of the State of Israel’s security,” Gantz had said prior to his leaving Israel. “I’ll meet […] with U.S. Secretary of Defense and his colleagues, and we’ll discuss ways for continuing the struggle against Iran and ensuring the qualitative edge of the State of Israel.”

Defense Secretary Mark Esper assured Gantz that the United States will ensure the maintenance of Israel’s qualitative superiority. There have been some fears that the proposed sale of U.S. F-35 fighters to the U.A.E will diminish Israel’s regional advantage. 

The F-35s aren’t the only items that the U.A.E. is buying, however. It will also procure Reaper drones and EA-18G Growlers, which are advanced electronic-warfare aircraft that are employed to jam enemy air defenses. The Growlers are currently flown only by the United States and Australia.

Gantz was an Israeli paratrooper officer. He trained at Fort Bragg, N.C., with U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets) as a young officer before fighting in Lebanon. He rose to be the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces and is now the Israeli Defense Minister. In a power-sharing and rotational deal with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Gantz will become Israel’s Prime Minister in November 2021.  

Gantz and Esper appeared together on the top of the Pentagon’s steps wearing facemasks. Esper reassured Gantz that Israel remains America’s most important strategic partner in the Middle East. “Our partnership is built over generations based on shared values, shared interests, and shared concerns,” Esper said.

He added that the bonds of friendship among the peoples of Israel and the United States are unbreakable. Gantz also met with President Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner.

“We cherish the American efforts to bring peace and the obligation to maintaining Israel’s military superiority,” Gantz said. “We will work in partnership to further regional stability in the Middle East through normalization with additional countries.”