In talks with the visiting chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sunday Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon accused Iran of financing terrorist activities in an attempt to spark wider conflict, and vowed Israel would defeat the effort.
Gen. Joseph Dunford arrived in Israel on Saturday in his first official trip outside of the US since taking up his position on October 1, and met with Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen.
Gadi Eisenkot at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv for discussions about strengthening bilateral ties and strategic regional issues.
“We very much value your commitment to Israeli security.
The US and Israel share many common values and interests. We view our relationship as strategic, and I would say, as a cornerstone of our national security,” Ya’alon said.
US top general visits Israel
Ya’alon praised the close cooperation between Israel’s Defense Ministry and the Pentagon, the two militaries, and ties between the intelligence agencies of both countries.
“We believe we must be on the same page regarding all developments in the Middle East,” he said. “The only set thing in the current situation of the Middle East is change, and the only thing that is stable is instability,” the defense minister said.
Ya’alon said that as nation states in the region collapse, Israel is witnessing a range of threats linked to the global jihad, like ISIS and Jabhat Al-Nusra, on its doorstep, as well as organizations supported by Iran.
“Iran, unfortunately, is the instigator and contributor of instability in the Middle East. We do not have a border or a territorial dispute with Iran, but the Iranian regime subverts us and does not intend to change its spots. It will continue being the chief instigator of terrorism in the region.”
Ya’alon said Iran has sought to set up terrorist bases against Israel from the Syrian Golan and was striving for regional hegemony and to export their revolution.
Commenting on the latest wave of violence with Palestinians, Ya’alon said “as we have done in the past... I believe that we will win.”
Gen. Dunford acknowledged the diplomatic ups and downs in “the family” between Washington and Jerusalem.
But military ties remain strong and will continue to be close, Dunford said.
Dunford said Ya’alon’s familiarity with regional challenges were better than his own. He said one of the reasons he came to Israel was “to listen to the [IDF] chief of staff, to you, and to the IDF commanders, because I know that you have the perspective that is very important to us. It will help us ensure that what are acting in the most effective manner.”
Meanwhile, Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer said on Sunday Israel and the United States have resumed talks on future defense aid that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended in protest at the Iran nuclear deal.
The allies had been looking to agree on a 10-year aid package to extend the current US grants to Israel worth $3 billion annually,which are due to expire in 2017.
“With the nuclear deal now moving ahead, Israel is also moving ahead, hoping to forge a common policy with the United States to address the continuing dangers posed by Iran,” Dermer wrote in a post on Facebook.
“Discussions over a new Memorandum of Understanding between Israel and the United States, which had been on hold for some time, resumed this past week in Washington,” he said.
“Israel hopes that the discussions we are now engaged in will culminate in a longterm agreement that will dramatically upgrade Israel’s ability to defend itself by itself against any threat and enable Israel to address the enormous challenges we now face in the region,” Dermer also wrote.
Ya’alon, visiting Washington later this month, was also expected to pursue those talks, as would Netanyahu when he meets President Barack Obama in the White House on November 9.