Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel met with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday at the Pentagon to reassure him that the diplomatic window on Iran is closing and that, despite tough fiscal times in Washington, exorbitant amounts of aid to Israel would not be affected.
According to the Pentagon, “Secretary Hagel expressed his strong commitment to Israel’s security, including maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge and continued US support for missile and rocket defense systems in spite of fiscal constraints.”
“Secretary Hagel and Minister Barak,” the Pentagon statement adds, “agreed that the United States-Israeli defense relationship has never been stronger than during the Obama administration and that both nations will continue this unprecedented close cooperation.”
On Iran, Hagel reiterated the US position to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapons with all options on the table – Washington’s euphemism for military action.
In their two hour meeting, the two officials also addressed the war in Syria, pledging “to continue US-Israel contingency planning to counter that potential threat.”
Many observers who expected Hagel, who had a reputation for issuing harsh criticisms of Israel, to differentiate the US relationship with Israel at least slightly, have thus far been disappointed by his close adherence to the Obama administration’s approach over the last four years.