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US Defense Secretary in Israel for Third Meeting with Gantz in a Month

October 30, 2020

by: Kate Norman

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US Defense Secretary Mark Esper toured the Iron Dome display yesterday with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

Friday, 30 October 2020 | US Defense Secretary Mark Esper landed in Israel Thursday for a meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, to discuss maintaining Israel’s military superiority in the Middle East amid shifting regional dynamics.

Gantz welcomed Esper on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport, where the US defense secretary was shown and briefed on an Iron Dome aerial defense battery, which Washington recently purchased for its own military.

Esper then met with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and Defense Ministry Director-General Maj.–Gen. Amir Eshel to discuss security cooperation between the two nations in the Middle East as well as the “imperative to maintain regional security and stability to confront Iran,” the Israeli Defense Ministry said in a statement.

This meeting follows closely on the heels of Defense Minister Gantz’s visit to the Pentagon last week to meet with Esper. The two signed a declaration of the US commitment to maintain the Jewish state’s qualitative military edge (QME) in the Middle East to ensure stability in the often volatile region.

“The joint declaration we signed last week means that Israel will have the tools it needs to contend with aggressive and destabilizing forces, making it an even more effective ally to the US and creating the conditions for peace to prosper,” Gantz stated after yesterday’s meeting with Esper.

Gantz praised the US defense secretary for his level of personal involvement in the matter and the fruit it is bearing.

“In my meetings with senior officials of the American administration, including Secretary of Defense Esper, we have ensured the security of Israel for decades to come,” Gantz said.

Gantz and other Israeli defense leaders had voiced concern over the impending US sale of advanced F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates in the framework of the Abraham Accords. The defense minister quickly set off to work, meeting with US defense officials to ensure that Israel will maintain its military superiority in the region. Last week’s visit to Washington was his second since the Abraham Accords to hold discussions ensuring the Israeli QME.

Washington has maintained a policy since the 70s—which was codified in 2008—to give Jerusalem the military edge in the region as part of their cooperation. The two often stand side-by-side as allies in a region where the sands shift faster than the tides.

“As the region is changing and taking huge steps forward, we have worked together to make sure that we leverage those changes to maximize peace and stability in our region,” Gantz told Esper at their meeting. “The joint declaration we signed last week means that Israel will have the tools it needs to contend with aggressive and destabilizing forces, making it an even more effective ally to the US and creating the conditions for peace to prosper.”

Posted on October 30, 2020

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 30, 2020)

Photo Credit: DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com