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Eyeing Iran, Gallant says defense cooperation with US has reached ‘new peak’

The Israeli defense minister says Secretary of State Blinken’s visit “sends a clear message to our adversaries as well as our partners in the region: The U.S. and Israel are united in the need to face Iran.”

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (right) meets with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Jerusalem, Israel, Jan. 31, 2023. Credit: Ariel Hermoni/Israeli Ministry of Defense.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (right) meets with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Jerusalem, Israel, Jan. 31, 2023. Credit: Ariel Hermoni/Israeli Ministry of Defense.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant vowed on Tuesday to work with the United States to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and curb Tehran’s regional “aggression.”

Gallant made the remarks during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who arrived in Israel on Monday.

“Your visit comes at a critical time, and it sends a clear message to our adversaries as well as our partners in the region: The U.S. and Israel are united in the need to face Iran and anyone who threatens peace and stability,” said Gallant. “We speak in one voice when we say that Iran must not gain a nuclear weapon and that we will not tolerate Iranian aggression.”

Gallant said that Israeli-U.S. defense cooperation had reached a “new peak” over the past month, citing the recent “Juniper Oak” joint military exercises that took place in the Jewish state and Eastern Mediterranean.

“Our bond and cooperation are critical to preserving the interests of both nations and to ensuring security and stability in the region. The next step is to work together to strengthen the regional architecture and broaden our cooperation with existing and potential partners in facing common challenges,” Gallant told Blinken.

Gallant briefed the top American diplomat on Israel’s strategic and operational security challenges, focusing on Iran and its proxies in Lebanon and Syria, as well as the recent wave of Palestinian terror attacks and high alert status in Judea and Samaria.

He added that the “ironclad bond” between the countries was translating into unparalleled intelligence-sharing and manifested in Washington’s unwavering support for Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge and right to defend itself.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Blinken on Monday, saying that the U.S.-Israel relationship was one of modern history’s great alliances.

“We share common interests, which are growing by the day,” Netanyahu said. “We share common values; two strong democracies which will remain, I assure you, two strong democracies.” He called President Joe Biden, whom he has known for 40 years, “a true friend of Israel, a true champion of this alliance.”

Blinken called the meeting with Netanyahu “a very productive, very candid, and I think important discussion that covered a lot of issues.” He added that he had expressed his condolences to Netanyahu for Friday’s terrorist shooting, which took place at a synagogue in Jerusalem and left seven dead and several wounded.

“In the context of this attack and escalating violence, it is important that the government and people of Israel know that America’s commitment to their security remains ironclad,” said Blinken.

The U.S. secretary of state was slated to travel to Ramallah later Tuesday for a meeting with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas.

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