Photo Credit: Chad McNeeley / US Department of Defense
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin meets with Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant in Tel Aviv on Dec. 18, 2023.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was welcomed to the Pentagon on Tuesday by his American counterpart, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, as the two pledged to work together to iron out US-Israeli disagreements “as friends do.”

Gallant emphasized that Iran and other mutual enemies of the two nations are watching closely to determine whether America’s “iron-clad commitment” to Israel’s security is still firm.

Advertisement brings our readers a video of the opening remarks of both defense leaders. Watch now.

Austin has visited Israel twice since the start of Iron Swords War on October 7, 2023. Gallant has likewise visited the Pentagon twice since the start of the war as well, but as Austin noted in his remarks, the two men speak by phone at least once a week, sometimes more.

Following are the transcripts of the remarks by both military leaders.

Remarks by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant:

“My friend Secretary Austin, it is my honor to be here at the Pentagon.

Mr. Secretary, since Hamas launched its brutal attack on October 7th, you were the first to fly to Israel – on October 13th. You stood with us then,and you stand with us today.

The people of Israel will never forget this.

The President, the Administration, and you, Mr. Secretary, have been with us since day one.

This includes working together to defend Israel, against a massive attack, by Iran and its proxies.

Today, we are at a crossroads, that will impact the entire Middle East. I am here to discuss the ways to achieve our common goals – ensuring the security of the State of Israel, and projecting the powerful ties between our countries.

In Gaza, we must work to ensure the return of 120 hostages – with no exception.
We must end the terrorist regime of Hamas.

In the north, we are determined to establish security – changing reality on the ground, and bringing our communities home safely.

We are working closely together to achieve an agreement, but we must also discuss readiness, for every possible scenario.

The greatest threat to the future of the world, is Iran. And time is running out.

Now is the time to materialize the commitment of American Administrations over the years- the promise to prevent Iran, from possessing nuclear weapons.

Above all, we must discuss our extraordinary ties:

Projecting power, together;

Discussing areas of disagreement as friends do; And standing strong together in the face of attacks – from missile attacks, to diplomatic attacks on the global stage.

Our friends and our enemies see this room, and understand our power.

We have a lot to discuss. Thank you Mr. Secretary.”

Remarks by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin:

“Minister Gallant, welcome back to the Pentagon. We’re delighted to have you. Thanks for making the trip. It’s good to be with you again in person. And you know, this is your second visit to the Pentagon since the horrifying Hamas assault on Israel on October 7th, 2023. I’ve traveled to Israel four times as secretary of defense, including two visits since October 7th, and you and I have spoken by phone more times than I can count, although my staff tells me it’s more than 50 times.

Now, since your last visit to Washington in March, we’ve helped Israel — helped defend Israel against the unprecedented Iranian attack on April 13th, in which 99 percent of Iran’s missiles and UAVs failed to reach their targets. President Biden has also signed the national security supplemental with more than $14 billion in assistance for Israel, and we’ve opened new routes to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, including new crossing — crossings and a temporary pier known as JLOTS.

Now, these are major security achievements, but we know that Israel’s citizens still face very real and very dangerous threat from Iran, including — and — and from its terrorist partners and proxies, including Hezbollah, the Houthis, and of course, Hamas.

The United States will always support Israel’s right to defend itself, and the United States will always ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself. And you can see that profound commitment yet again in our recent agreement on a third squadron of F-35s for Israel. We stand together to ensure that Iran, which is the source of so much of the region’s violence and instability, can never achieve a nuclear weapon.

Now, I am extremely concerned about the rise in rocket attacks on Israel’s north from Lebanese Hezbollah and the recent surge in tensions. Hezbollah’s rocket attacks means more suffering for the more than 60,000 Israelis now displaced from their homes, and for tens of thousands of displaced Lebanese. Hezbollah’s provocations threaten to drag the Israeli and Lebanese people into a war that they do not want, and such a war would be catas- — would be a catastrophe for Lebanon and it would be devastating for innocent Israeli and Lebanese civilians. Another war between Israel and Hezbollah could easily become a regional war with terrible consequences for the Middle East, and so diplomacy is by far the best way to prevent more escalation. So we — we’re urgently seeking a diplomatic agreement that restores lasting calm to Israel’s northern border and enables civilians to return safely to their homes on both sides of the Is- — Israel-Lebane- — -Lebanon border, and I look forward to working with you on this urgent issue, Mr. Minister.

But Yoav, I want to also commend Israel for the comprehensive cease-fire and hostage proposal that it has offered, as outlined by President Biden and endorsed by the U.N. Security Council. The onus is on Hamas to accept this roadmap to a durable end to this war, and the failure of Hamas to accept this important proposal is prolonging the agony of Palestinian civilians and Israeli civilians alike.

Now, Israel recently conducted a daring operation to rescue four hostages unjustly held by Hamas in Gaza, and we won’t rest until all of the hostages are safely home, including American citizens. But the only way to bring them all home is disciplined — is principled diplomacy, and we must not miss this moment and we must not risk indefinite war and insurgency.

Israel is in a hard fight against a cruel and ruthless foe, but I learned firsthand that you can only win in urban warfare by protecting civilians, so Israel must continue to do more to protect Palestinian civilians in Gaza, and that’s both a moral necessity and a strategic imperative. Israel must also continue to increase the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza, and Mr. Minister, Yoav, I want to thank you personally for your efforts here.

And I also remain extremely concerned about the attacks by violent Israeli extremists against innocent Palestinians in the West Bank, and so I look forward to discussing how both of our governments can work with the Palestinian Authority and our regional partners to increase security in the West Bank and bring stability to Gaza by credible planning for a postwar period and by moving on a path towards a two-state solution. Israelis and Palestinians both have the right to live in dignity and security, and as we move forward, our security bond with Israel will remain rock-solid.

Mr. Minister, Yoav, thanks for being here, and I look forward to a good discussion.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.