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Israeli defense minister urges US counterpart to take ‘decisive position’ against terrorism

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also expressed concern over Iran’s continued nuclear progress, after inspectors detected uranium enriched to 84% in the Islamic Republic.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant meets with U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) chief Gen. Michael Kurilla at military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Jan. 16, 2023. Credit: Ariel Hermoni/Israeli Defense Ministry.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant meets with U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) chief Gen. Michael Kurilla at military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Jan. 16, 2023. Credit: Ariel Hermoni/Israeli Defense Ministry.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke on Friday with his U.S. counterpart, Lloyd Austin, urging him to take a “decisive position” against Palestinian terrorism and warning of Iran’s march towards a nuclear bomb.

Gallant briefed Austin on Israel’s counterterrorism operation on Wednesday in Nablus, during which 11 Palestinians were killed. Israeli forces were attacked by gunmen after surrounding a terrorists’ hideout in the center of the Palestinian Authority-run city in Samaria.

Gallant explained to Austin that the targets of the raid were responsible for shootings in Israel and were planning more attacks, according to a statement by Gallant’s office.

The two also discussed ways to ensure stability in the region during the upcoming Muslim holiday of Ramadan, with Gallant nonetheless stressing the importance of maintaining a firm position against Palestinian terrorism emanating from Judea and Samaria.

For his part, Austin “encouraged the de-escalation of tensions,” while “underscor[ing] his steadfast commitment to Israel’s security, and to Israel’s right to defend its citizens from terrorism,” according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Gallant also expressed Israel’s concerns over Iran’s continued nuclear enrichment and overall progress on this front.

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that it was in talks with Iranian officials, after IAEA inspectors detected uranium enriched to 84% in the Islamic Republic—just below the 90% level needed for nuclear weapons.

In response, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen called on Washington to take steps to convince Tehran that the United States is not bluffing when it comes to the possibility of the use of force.

“If the United States does not establish a credible military threat immediately, either Israel will attack, or Iran will have a nuclear weapon, which we will not allow under any circumstance,” said the foreign minister.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thereafter warned that in the absence of a credible military threat or actual military action, Iran will become a nuclear power.

“The longer you wait, the harder [it] becomes [to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons]. We’ve waited very long. I can tell you that I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. That is not merely an Israeli interest; it’s an American interest; it’s in the interest of the entire world,” said Netanyahu.

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