Israeli defense establishment officials met this week with American officials for the annual US-Israel Defense Policy Advisory Group (DPAG) dialogue, which took place over the past two days in Jerusalem.
The American delegation, led by Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. Colin Kahl, included officials from the Pentagon, the defense and state departments and CENTCOM. The Israeli delegation was led by Defense Ministry director-general Amir Eshel, who is reportedly stepping down from his role following the formation of prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu's new government.
Israel, US defense delegations talk Iranian threats
The dialogue centered around threats posed by the Iranian regime, its nuclear program and its support for terrorism and regional aggression, a Defense Ministry statement said. The delegations discussed efforts to improve Israel's ability to defend itself from such threats. On Wednesday, an Iranian-made kamikaze drone launched from Iran attacked an Israeli-owned tanker in the Gulf of Oman.
Kahl and Eshel also discussed further integration of Israel into CENTCOM in order to expand "cooperation between the countries in all arenas," as the statement read. Kahl also "reaffirmed the enduring partnership between Israel and the US," as the relationship between the nations hit major roadblocks due to the possible inclusion of right-wing extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir in Netanyahu's government, as well as the recent announcement that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) plans to investigate the killing of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh earlier this year.
The DPAG, established in 1999, serves as a platform for dialogue between the Defense Ministry and the US' Department of Defense (DoD) to discuss several areas of mutual interest and concern and establish security cooperation.
As part of the annual meeting, the US delegation was presented with Israeli defense technologies in the works that are "designed to overcome future operational challenges." On Thursday, the Israeli Navy carried out a successful interception using the C-Dome system, which enables Israel to launch Iron Dome interceptors from the sea.
Gantz thanks 'true friend' Lloyd Austin ahead of Defense Ministry departure
Senior US officials within the delegation were also given a strategic briefing by Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who "emphasized the significant challenges that stand before the State of Israel."
Gantz, who is set to leave the Defense Ministry after taking the office in 2020, on Thursday thanked his US counterpart, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin for his "cooperation in countless dialogues with the defense establishment and me during these two years."
אמרתי לאוסטין שאני רואה בו ידיד אישי, אך לא פחות מכך ידיד אמת של מדינת ישראל. ביקשתי להודות לו על המחויבות שלו ושל הממשל לביטחון ישראל, המבוססת על ערכים ואינטרסים משותפים. pic.twitter.com/h8RkPK7RId— בני גנץ - Benny Gantz (@gantzbe) November 17, 2022
Austin, a "true friend" for Gantz personally and of the State of Israel, was thanked in a phone call for his and the Biden administration's "commitment to Israel's security, based on shared values and interests."