The commander of the United States Central Command, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, arrived in Israel on Thursday to meet with senior defense officials to discuss regional priorities and challenges, including the Iranian threat.

McKenzie met with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Friday to talk about the “importance of the close collaboration and coordination between the Israeli and American armed forces, vital to the shared interests of the two countries and to regional and global stability,” according to the Defense Minister’s office.

Gantz and McKenzie were joined by Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, who briefed the U.S. commander on Israel’s defense policy. Earlier this week, Kochavi warned the Biden administration not to rejoin or renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal.

Additionally, McKenzie held a roundtable discussion with members of the IDF General Staff that included Kochavi, as well as Deputy Chief of Staff Eyal Zamir, Military Intelligence chief Tamir Hayman, IDF Defense Attaché in Washington Yehuda Fuchs and Maj. Gen. Tal Kalman, who heads the newly formed Strategy and Third Circle Directorate, which is focused on the Iranian threat.

The visit by McKenzie is the first since it was announced that Israel was being transferred to CENTCOM from the Pentagon’s European Command. The decision, which was made in the last days of the Trump administration, places Israel with other Middle East countries, such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, among others.

In the past, concern was expressed that placing Israel in CENTCOM could create friction with America’s Arab allies. In light of the Abraham Accords and the shared threat of Iran, this issue has diminished.

JNS

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