Amid tensions Ashkenazi departs for visit to US, Canada

Chief of staff set to hold talks focusing on Israeli security challenges in Middle East; will meet soldiers who recently returned from Afghanistan.

November 13, 2010 20:45
1 minute read.
IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi speaks publicly for the first time on Wednesday.

Ashkenazi 311. (photo credit: Channel 10)


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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.

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.

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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 2009.

“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 protect civilians.”

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.

Later 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.

Despite 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.

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