Israel should do more to support Ukraine in its defensive war against Russia in light of Moscow’s deepening ties with Iran, US Secretary of State said as he wrapped up his two-day visit to the Jewish state.
“Tehran’s deepening ties with Moscow and the sophisticated weaponry they are exchanging, are among the many reasons that we raised with Israel the importance of providing support for all of Ukraine’s needs,” Blinken said on Tuesday.He clarified that this means “humanitarian, economic and security as it defends its people against Russia’s brutal aggression,” Blinken said.
A neutral stance?
It’s the clearest statement he has made to date about the simmering disagreement between Washington and Jerusalem over Israel’s more neutral stance on Russia.
Ukraine has pressured Israel to provide it with defensive weapons against missiles and armed drones. It has also called for Israel to deliver on its promise to send it an early alert system.Israel has feared that active military support for Ukraine particularly with defensive and or offensive weapons would force Russia to end the deconfliction agreement under which the IDF aerially attacks Iranian targets in Syria.
Those attacks are critical to keeping Iran from entrenching itself on Israel’s border and in preventing the illegal flow of arms to the Iranian proxy group Hezbollah in Lebanon.The complex dance that Israel has done to maintain its relationship with Russia, while supporting Ukraine and attacking Iranian targets, was underscored during Blinken’s regional visit that began in Cairo on Sunday and ended in Jerusalem on Tuesday.As Blinken headed to Egypt over the weekend, a weapon depot in the Iranian city of Isfahan exploded, with the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times alleging that Israel was behind the blast. Moscow condemned the attack, and in veiled language also seemed to finger Israel with United States support.Israel, as is its policy in such instances, has not confirmed or denied its involvement. The Pentagon has said it was not militarily involved.
"I made clear that America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unwavering, just as it has been for 75 years,”US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Iran was high on Blinken’s agenda as both Israel and the US seek to strengthen their joint front against Iran, both with respect to preventing its pursuit of nuclear weapon development and its global aggression.Washington and Jerusalem have in the past been at odds over Iran, with the US supporting a 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran which it believed would curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Israel opposed the deal, which it believed only empowered Iran.Now that the deal is dormant and the Biden administration does not believe it can be revived, the two governments have strengthened their joint efforts against Iran. In Jerusalem on Tuesday, Blinken said, that “Israel and the US have a shared commitment, one, that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon and two, that we continue to stand together with other counties as well against many destabilizing actions that Iran is engaged in” both regionally and globally, he said.“One of those actions was the provision by Iran to Russia of drone technology to be used in Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.“Not only is Iran providing military equipment to Russia, but Russia is doing the same with Iran, which is a real concern to us and to Israel,” Blinken said.While he was in Israel, he said, he spoke with Israeli officials about ways to continue the "collaborate against Iran." Blinken said he also spoke with Israeli officials about ways to advance the shared security interests of both countries.