(photo credit: Channel 10)
Amid growing political tension between Jerusalem and Washington DC, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi left Saturday night for a week-long visit to the United States and Canada for talks that will focus on Israeli security challenges in the Middle East.
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Ashkenazi will fist fly to Canada where he will meet with Chief of Defense Staff Gen. Walt Natynczyk, who was in Israel last year. During the visit, Ashkenazi will tour some Canadian military bases and meet with soldiers who recently returned from combat in Afghanistan.
Natynczyk is a strong ally of Israel. During his visit here last year,
he said he completely understood why Israel attacked civilian
infrastructure during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in early
“I've got to look through the whole report and read it
through myself,” he said in reference to the Goldstone Report. “But I
fully understand how when someone is attacked from houses, family
houses, and so on, that there is a responsibility to protect oneself and
This will likely be Ashkenazi’s last trip to
North American before he steps down as chief of staff in February and
is replaced by former OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant.
in the week, Ashkenazi will travel to Washington DC for talks with top
US officials including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike
Mullen and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy.
the growing political tension over Israel’s refusal to extend the
moratorium on construction in the West Bank, the Israeli and US defense
establishments continue to enjoy close ties.
Ashkenazi is said to
have a very strong relationship with Mullen and other officials in the
Obama administration and is viewed in Washington as a moderate chief of
staff who is reluctance to use military force has been a restraining
factor on the current and past governments.