Petraeus: Israel vital strategic ally

US general reiterates "insignificant progress" in ME peace process.

petraeus 311 (photo credit: AP)
petraeus 311
(photo credit: AP)
US Gen. David Petraeus reiterated Tuesday that "Israel is - has been, is and will be a - an important strategic ally of the United States."
In an address to Washington based think tank the "Woodrow Wilson Center," Petraeus, commander of the US military’s Central Command, said reports claiming that he was seeking to relocate both Israel and Palestinian Territories from the European Command to his Central Command were “not correct".

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Petraeus caused a stir in Israel last month when he charged that the Arab-Israeli conflict hurts America’s ability to advance its interests in the Middle East, fomenting anti-American sentiment and limiting America’s strategic partnerships with Arab governments.
He also telephoned IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi to reassure Israel that comments attributed to him regarding supposed Israeli intransigence were spun out of context.
Petraeus referred to the above episodes in his address Wednesday,saying, "I think rightly, seized on was the inclusion of the commentabout insignificant progress or insufficient progress toward acomprehensive Mideast peace process".
"It did not say anythingabout settlements, didn't say anything about putting our soldiers atrisk or something like that," he stressed.
Petraeus highlighted various contributions to Middle East instability, including "militantIslamist movements; proliferation of weapons of mass destruction;ungoverned, poorly governed and alternatively governed spaces;insufficient progress toward a comprehensive Mideast peace process;significant sources of terrorist financing and facilitation; piracy;ethnic, tribal and sectarian rivalries; criminal activities, such asweapons, narcotics and human trafficking; uneven economic developmentand lack of employment opportunities; and lack of regional and globaleconomic integration."