Outgoing United States Secretary of Defense James Mattis has rejected an appeal made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to approve an Israeli sale of US-manufactured F-16 fighter jets, a report says.
Washington criticized the sale as a move to weaken and compete with the American arms market, according to an unnamed Israeli official speaking to Israel’s Channel 10 television network on Thursday.
The $500-million sale of 12 F-16 aircraft to Croatia, equipped with Israeli electronic systems, required American approval.
Washington, however, demanded that Israel only sell the planes in their original condition, removing the Israeli upgrades.
Furthermore, Mattis reportedly rejected a personal appeal by Netanyahu two weeks ago, reminding the Israeli prime minister that the United States “goes to great lengths to help its closest ally in the Middle East.”
The Israeli official added that “for reasons we don’t fully understand, the…