Michael Oren at Zedekiah’s Cave.
(photo credit: GPO)
Deputy Minister and former ambassador to the US Michael Oren responded to the resignation of US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on Friday, "Today, as in the past, Israel will have to defend itself with its own forces in order to deal with the great threats in the north."
Oren added, ""Thank you very much Jim Mattis, the outgoing Secretary of Defense, for many years of service and commitment to Israeli security. Like in Israel, Mattis believed that a strong American presence in the Middle East served as a buffer to Iran and other hostile elements."
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter also responded to the resignation on Friday in an interview on Army Radio. "There is no doubt that it is always good to have a friend in the region, but the presence of the American army here was not critical for us," Dichter said.
"The US withdrawal can actually give rise to an opportunity to leverage a move to remove Iran from Syria, at least against the Russians," he added.
Mattis has been a strong supporter of Israel and its right to defend itself. Mattis, a previous commander of the United States Central Command, responded to previous clashes involving Israel and Syria earlier this year with staunch words of support for Israel.
"Israel has an absolute right to defend itself - they don't have to wait until their citizens are dying under attack before they actually address that issue," Mattis has said in response to an Israeli attempt to strike a Syrian launch site in February 2018
.Avraham Gold contributed to this report.