Today in Tel Aviv, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III met with Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant to discuss the U.S.-Israel defense partnership and reaffirm his ironclad commitment to ensuring Israel’s security. He also discussed opportunities to increase military cooperation and expressed concern regarding the escalation of violence in the West Bank.
Secretary Austin and Minister Gallant reviewed important developments in the U.S.-Israeli bilateral defense partnership, including the recently concluded JUNIPER OAK exercise, which deployed over 7,000 U.S. and Israeli forces. Secretary Austin lauded Israel’s integration into the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility and expressed the Department’s intent to strengthen the regional security architecture and to further multilateral cooperation with regional partners.
Both leaders agreed to continue working together to address the wide range of threats posed by Iran. Secretary Austin underscored the U.S. commitment to ensuring Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon.
Secretary Austin provided updates to Minister Gallant on Russia’s unprovoked war of choice in Ukraine. He noted the negative implications for Israel and the broader Middle East from increased military cooperation between Iran and Russia. Specifically, he noted the risk of Iran gaining battlefield experience with one way attack unmanned aerial vehicles that it has transferred to Russia for use against Ukrainian civilians and civilian infrastructure, and the implications for the region of Russia’s transfer of sophisticated military technology to Iran.
Secretary Austin expressed concern over the deteriorating security situation in the West Bank. He urged that immediate action be taken to implement commitments made during the high level meeting in Aqaba, Jordan on February 26, including the Israeli Defense Forces. He encouraged the Israeli Ministry of Defense to work with the United States Security Coordinator and with the Palestinian Authority Security Forces to reduce violence and restore calm, particularly before the upcoming Ramadan and Passover holidays.
Both leaders agreed to remain in close contact.