Top US general to visit Israel, Ya'alon amid strategy spats

US Gen. Dempsey to meet Ya'alon after the Defense Minister's controversial remarks regarding US foreign policy offended the US for the second time.

March 29, 2014 11:10
1 minute read.
Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Jet V-22, June 15

Moshe Yaalon with Hagel on plane 370. (photo credit: Ariel Harmoni, Ministry of Defense)

JERUSALEM  - The United States' top military officer will visit Israel next week where he will meet the Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon who has angered Washington by criticizing its strategies in the Middle East and Ukraine.

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General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, will meet Ya'alon in Jerusalem on Sunday.

The US State Department has stated its disappointed that Ya'alon, in its opinion, has not apologized for remarks he made at a closed-door meeting and a speech at the Tel Aviv University this month, criticizing Secretary of State John Kerry's stand on the Israeli-Palestinian peace accord and saying that Washington's handling of the Ukraine crisis projected weakness.

In further remarks that were leaked to the media, Ya'alon suggested that Israel, should it lose faith in Washington, might have to make good on a long-standing threat to attack Iran's nuclear program unilaterally.

Ya'alon, for his part claims to have apologized for his remarks.

In a phone conversation with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel earlier this month, Ya'alon said that his comments "were not intended to express opposition, criticism or offense to the United States," adding that maintaining strong ties with the United States is Israel's utmost priority.

Neither the US embassy nor the Israeli military, who will host Dempsey, have published a full itinerary for the visit as of Saturday morning. One Israeli official briefed on the trip said it was likely to last until Tuesday and that Dempsey may not make any public appearances.

Herb Keinon and Michael Wilner contributed to this report.

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