Top US military and national security officials are in Israel to meet with ministers and other officials from the newly-installed government of Likud leader and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
America’s top military general for the Middle East arrived earlier in the week to meet with his counterpart and other senior military and defense officials from the Jewish State, according to the US Central Command (CENTCOM).
US General Erik Kurilla met Monday and Tuesday with Israel’s new IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, and outgoing Chief of Staff, Aviv Kochavi, to discuss “common threats, ways to strengthen ties between the two militaries and an upcoming joint military drill.”
Kurilla also met with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and received briefings at Israel Air Force headquarters.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan arrived in Israel later in the week for meetings on Thursday with a plethora of government officials.
Sullivan met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his chief of staff Tzachi Braverman, Mossad director David Barnea, National Security Council director Tzachi Hanegbi, Gallant, Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and Israeli Ambassador to the US Mike Herzog in meetings that at first were expanded and then were private.
Participating for the American side were Deputy Assistant to President Joe Biden and the National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk and US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides.
Netanyahu told Sullivan during statements to the media that he had arrived at a “special time” because Israel is facing “acute challenges” to her security and “vast opportunities” for peace.
The prime minister said he is “convinced that by working together we can both meet the challenges and realize the opportunities. That’s something that bolsters our extraordinary alliance but also can change the region and change history.”
Netanyahu’s office said in a communique that the prime minister and US national security adviser discussed “joint efforts to stop the Iranian nuclear program and Iran’s actions in the region.”
According to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Netanyahu expressed his gratitude for Biden’s commitment that Iran will not obtain nuclear weapons.
The two men also performed the de rigueur ritual of praising the importance of the strategic relationship between Israel and the US, and the need to deepen it. In addition, they discussed the next steps to deepen the Abraham Accords and expand the circle of peace, with emphasis on a breakthrough regarding Saudi Arabia.
Netanyahu also emphasized “the latest moves by the Palestinian Authority in the international arena are an attack on Israel and oblige us to respond.”
Earlier in the day, Hanegbi and Sullivan held their first working meeting, during which they agreed to continue the dialogue between the respective strategic cooperation agencies which they chair, “in order to maintain the professional dialogue on the Iranian issue.” They also discussed the continuation of bilateral strategic technological cooperation.
Barnea also met with Sullivan separately to discuss continued cooperation between US and Israeli security agencies in dealing with the countries’ respective strategic challenges.
In addition to their tightly-packed schedule of talks, Hanegbi and Sullivan also held a virtual meeting with their counterparts from the UAE and Bahrain, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, respectively. The four declared their commitment to deepen the Abraham Accords and discussed practical steps to advance their joint interests in the region.