US Gen. David Petraeus reiterated Tuesday that "Israel is - has been, is and will be a - an important strategic ally of the United States."
In an address to Washington based think tank the "Woodrow Wilson Center," Petraeus, commander of the US military’s Central Command, said reports claiming that he was seeking to relocate both Israel and Palestinian Territories from the European Command to his Central Command were “not correct".Related: Senators stress value of US-Israel ties
Petraeus caused a stir in Israel last month when he charged that the Arab-Israeli conflict hurts America’s ability
to advance its interests in the Middle East, fomenting anti-American sentiment and limiting America’s strategic partnerships with Arab governments.
He also telephoned IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi
to reassure Israel that comments attributed to him regarding supposed Israeli intransigence were spun out of context.
Petraeus referred to the above episodes in his address Wednesday,
saying, "I think rightly, seized on was the inclusion of the comment
about insignificant progress or insufficient progress toward a
comprehensive Mideast peace process".
"It did not say anything
about settlements, didn't say anything about putting our soldiers at
risk or something like that," he stressed.
Petraeus highlighted various contributions to Middle East instability, including "militant
Islamist movements; proliferation of weapons of mass destruction;
ungoverned, poorly governed and alternatively governed spaces;
insufficient progress toward a comprehensive Mideast peace process;
significant sources of terrorist financing and facilitation; piracy;
ethnic, tribal and sectarian rivalries; criminal activities, such as
weapons, narcotics and human trafficking; uneven economic development
and lack of employment opportunities; and lack of regional and global