The Donald Trump administration’s interest in selling an advanced anti-missile system to Saudi Arabia is expected to easily clear Congress in a sign of warming Arab-Israeli ties.
Israel is not objecting to the proposed sale of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system, according to several Washington sources, assuaging US lawmakers’ concerns that Israel retain the upper hand when it comes to weapons technology. The apparent approval is but the latest example of Israel and Saudi Arabia's cementing their tacit front against Iran as Trump prepares to visit both countries later this month.
"Certainly the relationship has gotten better,” said Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Middle East panel. “In addition to that, arms sales to various countries in the Middle East are dicey at best and as a result, they're not done in a vacuum. There's usually considerable consultation all the way around with allies."
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., the top Democrat on the full committee, confirmed that the Israelis are well aware of the THAAD proposal. The Israeli Embassy in Washington did not return requests for comment.
“I’ve raised that issue with the administration, and they say they are in conversations with the Israelis. So we’ll see how that went,” Cardin told Al-Monitor. “I’ve raised the concern generally on Saudi sales because we anticipate there’s more in the works.”