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US, Israel hold secret meeting in effort to curb growing Iranian threat

U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands at the Israel museum in Jerusalem.

Israel and the United States have secretly signed a joint strategic action plan to cooperate in their efforts to deal with Iran’s nuclear threat and growing ambitions in the region, The Times of Israel reported on Friday citing an Israeli TV report.

On December 12, a delegation led by National Security Advisor Meir Ben Shabat met at the White House with his US counterpart, H. R. McMaster where a document was signed followed by rounds of intensive talks, according to Channel 10.

The meeting, part of ongoing discussions between the US and Israel defining common strategic goals, culminated in the creation a number of joint teams focused on countering elements of the country’s threats. Dealing with Iranian activity in Syria, Iran’s nuclear weapons program and its ballistic missile systems as well as its support for the Lebanese-based Hezbollah group, were areas mentioned by the report.

“Israel and the United States see eye-to-eye on the trends and processes in the region, especially Iran, and reached agreements on the strategy and policy required in relation to them,” the senior Israeli officials said according to Channel 10.“Both we and the Americans are very pleased with these conclusions and the commitment to dealing with both the challenges and opportunities in the region,” the official continued.

This pact follows on from US President Donald Trump’s October 13 speech where he unveiled a more aggressive strategy to check Iran’s growing might announcing that he would not recertify the Iranian nuclear deal. Weeks after, a slew of bills were passed in Congress sanctioning Hezbollah and targeting the illicit funding of the group as a means to stifle Iranian intentions.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in an opinion piece for the New York Times last week also reiterated the US’s intentions to up the ante against Iran stating that, “the flawed nuclear deal is no longer the focal point of our policy toward Iran…we are now confronting the totality of Iranian threats.”

US and Israel’s perspective on the Middle East has been increasingly converging since the US President Donald Trump assumed the presidency last year. In his National Security Strategy launched December 18, Trump declared that “Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems” instead denounced Iran as a root cause of instability.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also a fierce opponent of the Iran deal and has been united with Trump in his decertification efforts. Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has also been championed by the Netanyahu administration whilst simultaneously receiving a barrage of international criticism from around the world.

Come January, Trump will have to reassess his decision on Iran and decide whether to reimpose sanctions impacting greatly on Obama’s 2015 nuclear agreement.

Source: i24news

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