WASHINGTON, D.C.—Last week, Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Brad Schneider (IL-10), John Katko (NY-24), Brad Sherman (CA-30), and Ted Deutch (FL-22) introduced H.R. 8494, bipartisan legislation reiterating American commitment to Israel’s qualitive military edge (QME) in the face of reports of U.S. arms sales to the region. Joining the Representatives on this bipartisan legislation include Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Tom Reed (R-NY), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Ami Bera (D-FL), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), David Trone (D-MD), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Max Rose (D-NY), Gil Cisneros (D-CA), and Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM).
This legislation reiterates the requirement for Congressional consultation on arms sales to the Middle East that could impact Israel’s QME. It also would require the President to consult with the Israeli government to ensure QME concerns are settled, and 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.
“The recent negotiations and signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the Kingdom of Bahrain is a historic step towards a lasting peace in the Middle East, a region that has seen constant conflict for generations. For decades, Israel has been a key strategic ally and friend of the United States, and it is crucial that we do everything we can to support our allies,” said Fitzpatrick. “Despite the incredible steps towards peace that have been made, there are still plenty of entities that wish to harm Israel. This is why it is so important that we support Israel and help to preserve its Qualitative Military Edge (QME), to ensure the safety of the Israeli people and maintain stability in the region.”
“Since the Lyndon Johnson Administration, maintaining Israel’s QME has been a bedrock of Israel’s security strategy and American foreign policy, and has been codified in law for well over a decade,” said Schneider. “Israel is our single most important ally in the Middle East, and Congress will not let any President undermine her security with unapproved weapons sales. This bill strengthens that commitment and reminds the Administration of its obligations under the law.”
“While I applaud the historic normalization of relations between Israel and both the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, I firmly believe we must continue supporting Israel to ensure safety and security in the region,” said Katko. “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.”
“Central to our support of our ally Israel is ensuring that it maintains its qualitative military edge (QME),” said Sherman. “The signing of the Abraham Accords represents a history step towards peace and security in the region, but maintaining Israel’s QME is paramount. I want to thank Congressman Schneider for his leadership on the Guaranteeing Israel’s QME Act of 2020. The U.S. should consult our ally Israel to ensure that any future sale to the region does not serve to negatively impact its QME.”
“The United States is committed to ensuring Israel’s security, and Congress will continue to uphold our commitments in US law to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge,” said Deutch. “As well, the recently established ties between Israel and Arab partners create new opportunities that can contribute to the security and stability in the region. As these developments take shape, Congress will exercise all appropriate authority and oversight over any future security arrangements.”
The legislation comes amid the historic Abraham Accords normalizing relations between Israel and both the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and amid reports of U.S. sales of advanced defense technology to the region. QME considerations and Congressional consultation have long been integral to the arms export process and are all the more important in the context of these historic agreements.