President Donald Trump's massive arms deal to Saudi Arabia has Israel's security establishment deeply concerned, Israel's Yesh Atid Party Chairman Yair Lapid told The Times of Israel on Monday.
Lapid, who according to the polls is the main challenger to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if elections were to be held, said the prime minster was "almost reckless" in how he ignored the country's security concerns by neither preventing the $110 billion deal nor minimizing its damage.
The Yesh Atid chairman charged that Netanyahu was so concerned about giving the appearance of a flawless visit to Israel by Trump that he failed to protect Israel's interests.
Although Lapid said it was legitimate to fully embrace the American president, it also should have been part of the Israeli government's policy to tell Trump, 'Listen, we appreciate the friendship, but we are unhappy with the fact that you're selling arms to the Saudis for $110 billion without even consulting us.'"
Lapid cited several key dangers in the arms deal, such as an agreement to build Saudi Arabia a cybersecurity center.
"This worries me because once you give them the cyber ability, you cannot tell them that they can only direct it towards Iran. No, it's going to be directed towards Israel as well," he told The Times of Israel.
Another major problem is that the Saudis will obtain as part of the deal the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system, which if deployed across the Middle East could limit Israel's aerial superiority in the region.
Lapid also said Netanyahu was to blame that the Israeli government did not know about the deal ahead of time, because there is no full-time foreign minister nor properly functioning Foreign Ministry due to the prime minister's insistence on holding the position himself.
The Yesh Atid chairman said that if he were prime minister, he would have tried ahead of time to prevent the arms purchase and publicly spoken out against it.
"The prime minister must stop being afraid of President Trump's short fuse and tell him publicly: 'For you it is a question of money and jobs - for us it's a matter of life and death,'" he told The Times of Israel.
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