Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovič says the U.S. is standing in the way of a $500 million F-16 fighter jet deal between Croatia and Israel, Axios reported Friday.
The deal, which was announced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last March, would involve Israel selling Croatia 12 refurbished U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets. The U.S. never gave Israel permission to sell the jets, per Axios, and Washington began alerting Israeli officials three weeks ago that they would block the deal.
Israel upgraded the jets with their own technology as a selling point for the Croatians to buy from them rather than directly from the U.S., which angered the Americans, according to Israeli officials. The U.S. claims Israel was never supposed to sell the jets without receiving American approval first, and has accused Israel of trying to profit off U.S. equipment and the thus-far strong relationship between Netanyahu and the Trump administration.
Plenkovič remains optimistic the deal will pass, so long as Israel and the U.S. come to an agreement. He says it's up to Israel to settle the dispute and move the jet deal forward.
"We are not in a particularly burdensome situation, everything that has been done on our part was correct," Plenkovič said in a statement. "I do not believe that there is a possibility that the deal will not be approved eventually." The U.S., on the other hand, wanted to score the lucrative sale to Croatia and is frustrated that Israel got in the way. Read more at Axios.Marianne Dodson