The United States has deployed an unspecified number of F-15 fighter jets to Israel to conduct joint exercises with the Israeli air force in the next two weeks, according to a report.
The drills will take place out of the Ovda air base, the home of the Israeli air force’s aggressor squadron known as Red Squadron, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Thursday, citing military sources.
“An international exercise in cooperation with the American air force will begin in the coming days,” the Israeli military spokesman’s office said. “The exercise is based on the annual training plan.”
The Israeli air force has conducted several war games with foreign counterparts in the past. Last month, it joined air forces from Greece, the United Arab Emirates and the US for a training exercise over Greece.
Israeli pilots also took part in the Red Flag exercises in Nevada, the US, last year.
Israel received three F-35 fighter jets from the US this past weekend – a new generation of stealth planes that critics fear would further enable the regime to carry out airstrikes and spying operations against the Palestinians and neighboring countries.
The advanced jets, purchased last year, were put on display in the skies along the Mediterranean coast and across several cities, including Tel Aviv, during an air show held to mark the 69th anniversary of the forcible eviction of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948.
Israel has bought a total of 50 F-35s from the US manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, and has said it would have the first squadron combat-ready before the end of this year. Lockheed describes the plane as “virtually invisible.”
Although the jet comes with a huge price tag, $110 million apiece, the fleet will be financed out of the US military assistance.
The annual $3 billion aid package will rise to $3.8 billion next year, under a 10-year agreement signed by former President Barack Obama shortly before he left the White House.
Israel’s older fleets of F-15 and F-16 jets, which have been in use since the 1970s, will gradually be decommissioned with the arrival of the new stealth fighter.
US President Donald Trump has welcomed Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas to the White House to discuss ways to resume the Palestinian-Israeli political process.
“Hopefully something terrific can come out between the Palestinians and Israel,” the US president said at a press conference in Washington D.C. on Wednesday.
Trump also said he saw a “very good chance” for peace between Israel and Palestine.
Abbas said Palestine was the only nation in the world living under occupation. He also expressed hope that Palestine and Israel can reach a comprehensive peace based on the so-called two-state solution in accordance with the borders of 1967.
“I believe that we are capable under your leadership and under your courageous stewardship and your wisdom as well as your great negotiating ability … I believe we can be partners, true partners to you, to bring about a historic peace treaty,” Abbas said. “Now, Mr. President, with you we have hope.”
The Palestinian president also said Muslims, Jews and Christians must be able to live together in the holy land.
“Mr. President, it’s about time for Israel to end its occupation of our people and of our land,” Abbas said.
Trump said he had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, adding that he would “do whatever is necessary” to reach an agreement.
At that meeting, which was held in mid-February, Trump said he would not pursue decades of American policy in favor of the so-called two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Trump also urged Netanyahu to “hold back on settlements for a little bit.”
UN Security Council Resolution 2334 calls on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem” al-Quds.
Over half a million Israelis live in more than 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds.
- Israel approves over 1,000 settler units
- Palestinians, Israel’s allies slam controversial settlement law
The continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle to the efforts to establish peace in the Middle East.
The Palestinian Authority wants the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.
The White House has announced US President Donald Trump’s travel plans to Saudi Arabia, followed by Israel and the Vatican this month with the aim to “combat extremism, terrorism and violence.”
Trump will take his first foreign trip late May, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement issued on Thursday.
The trip “will begin to construct a new foundation of cooperation and support with our Muslim allies to combat extremism, terrorism and violence and to embrace a more just and hopeful future for young Muslims in their countries,” said Trump in his remarks in the White House Rose Garden.
“Our task is not to dictate to other how to live, but to build a coalition of friends and partners who share the goal of fighting terrorism,” he added.
The visit to Saudi Arabia, he said, will include a “truly historic gathering in Saudi Arabia with leaders from all across the Muslim world.”
“Saudi Arabia is the custodian of the two holiest sites in Islam, and it is there that we will begin to construct a new foundation of cooperation and support with our Muslim allies, to combat extremism, terrorism and violence,” Trump said, “and to embrace a more just and hopeful future for young Muslims in their countries.”
The US president will then travel to Israel, where he has a largely positive relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has always acknowledged Trump’s support and recently he praised his military aggression in Syria, and called his actions a “great change in the direction of American policy.”
This is while on Wednesday, the Republican president welcomed Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas to the White House to discuss ways to resume the Palestinian-Israeli political process.
“Hopefully something terrific can come out between the Palestinians and Israel,” said Trump at the meeting. He also said he saw a “very good chance” for peace between Israel and Palestine.
The president will finish his visit with what White House officials called a “historic” trip to the Vatican.
Pope Francis once said of Trump, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”
It was also known that the president would take a trip to Brussels with a visit to NATO on May 25, followed by a meeting at the G7 summit in Sicily, Italy.