US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey_311.
(photo credit: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
US Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of
Staff, began his round of meetings with Israel’s top military and
political leadership on Friday with a clear message – coordination and
dialogue are key to improving Israel’s security standing in the
“We have many interests in common in the region in this very dynamic
time and the more we can continue to engage each other, the better off
we'll all be,” Dempsey told IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and
Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the beginning of their meeting at the
Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on Friday. Barak responded by saying that "there
is never a dull moment. That I can promise you".
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also assured Gantz of US commitment to Israel: "The simplest message of
all, my presence here, I hope reflects the commitment we have with
each other and I'm here to assure you that's the case."
"I do know
that both our countries share the same interests and values, and I'm
sure that we can somehow work it out together," Gantz said to his US
counterpart earlier in the conversation, in a possible reference to the Iranian nuclear
Dempsey, the US’ most
senior military officer, arrived in Israel late Thursday night for talks
that are aimed at getting the IDF and the government to put the brakes
on possible plans to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. The US is hoping that
Israel will move attack plans to the back burner and give diplomacy and
sanctions more time to have an effect on the Iranian regime.
After arriving in Israel, Dempsey and his wife Deanie met Gantz and his wife Revital for dinner
near Tel Aviv. Before the meal, Gantz surprised Dempsey with a
performance by the IDF orchestra which played Frank Sinatra’s “New York,
New York”. Dempsey is a known Sinatra fan and often sings at various
Dempsey will also meet with head of Military
Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, OC IDF Planning Directorate
Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel, President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu. He will later visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum
before leaving Israel Friday evening.
The US army chief's visit
comes amid rising tension between Jerusalem and Washington over Israeli
frustration with the US and Europe’s reluctance to impose tougher
economic sanctions on Iran.
He is expected to try and reassure
Israel that the Obama administration is committed to stopping Iran’s
nuclear program, even if it ultimately comes down to using military
force. Top US officials have recently said that the US will not allow
Iran to build a nuclear weapon.
While there are differences
between the countries as to the type of steps that need to be taken to
stop Iran, both Israel and the US share the same intelligence
assessments regarding the status of Iran’s nuclear program.
As reported last month in The Jerusalem Post
Israeli and American intelligence believe that while Iran has mastered
all of the technology it requires to build a nuclear weapon, the regime
has yet to make the decision to do so.
Ahead of Dempsey’s visit,
Barak tried to ease tensions with Washington, saying that an Israeli
military strike against Iran is still “very far off.” Barak said that
Israel was coordinating with the US on how to prevent Iran from
obtaining a nuclear weapon.
"We haven't made any decision to do
this," Barak told Army Radio on Wednesday, adding that "this entire thing is
very far off. I don’t want to provide estimates [but] it’s certainly
not urgent."Jpost.com staff contributed to this report