Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon is briefed by IDF officers on the Golan Heights.
(photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
WASHINGTON – The US will defend Israel as it does its NATO allies, a senior US defense official told a delegation of Israeli diplomatic reporters visiting Washington, saying the commitment to Israel’s security is something US defense officials “live on a daily basis.”
“We have an ally relationship with Israel,” the official said. “The word ally means something to us. It means that if you are attacked, we defend you. This is what an ally relationship means. That is what it means for our NATO allies. We use that term sparingly.”
The official said the US is “appalled” by Iranian calls to destroy Israel, “but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t sign a deal that decreases the likelihood they will be a nuclear state.”
While there has not been a discussion with Israel about a “compensation package” as a direct result of the Iranian accord, the official said the US remains committed to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge and will not sell the state-of-the-art F35 fighter – which it is selling to Israel – to any other country in the Middle East, including Egypt.
The two countries are, however, in a “deep” discussion about a new “memorandum of understanding.” The current 10-year memorandum, which expires in 2018, provides Israel with $3.1 billion of foreign military financing each year. This discussion, the official said, is not connected to the nuclear accord.
Regarding enhanced security capabilities the US has offered some of the Gulf states, the official said, “There are some key capabilities Israel would prefer that the Gulf states don’t have,” stating that the US hears Israeli objections to the delivery of these capabilities to the Gulf states “all the time.”
At the same time, the official took issue with a comment Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon made last month to the effect that, while Israel sees Iran as part of the problem in the region, the US views it as part of the solution.
“We are not expecting Iran to radically change behavior,” the official said, adding that the accord is an effort to “carve off a critically important part of the issue.”
The US, the official said, has “no illusion that they will change, we want them accountable for his particular issue.”