Ashkenazi: ‘We don’t need a defense pact with the United States’

The former chief of staff and No. 4 on the Blue and White list says the cons far outweigh the pros of a mutual defense pact with Israel’s greatest ally.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Gabi Ashkenazi slammed the idea of Israel signing a mutual defense pact with the United States Sunday in a pre-election interview on Israeli news outlet Ynet, a day after President Trump tweeted that he would discuss such a move with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later this month.

“No Israeli government has ever wanted a defense pact,” said the former chief of staff and the No. 4 candidate on the Blue and White ticket. Such an agreement “would handcuff Israel’s freedom to act,” he said.

“We always made sure that Israel’s fate and security would be in her own hands. What do we want? That every sortie into Syria must get the authorization of the United States?”

Ashkenazi also pointed out that such a pact meant that Israel would have obligations as well as rights – ones that he thought would be quite harmful to the Jewish state.

“Do we want to see [Israeli infantry brigade] Golani fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan?” he said, noting that this is what NATO membership required of European countries like France and Britain. Other countries have deployed soldiers for years in Iraq due to their treaty obligations with the U.S., Ashkenazi says.

“We don’t need a defense pact,” Ashkenazi said. “The present reality of the strategic relations [we have] with the United States is excellent for Israel.”

America, he said, sends aid whenever it is requested, not because of the personalities who head the respective governments but because they were looking out for their own interests in doing so.

“Even in the hardest hours of crises with American presidents and prime ministers, the strategic partnership was always preserved,” he said, adding that Netanyahu’s trumpeting of his special relationship with Trump was simply a political ploy being waved just three days before elections.

However, there have been other voices supporting a formal pact as well.

Pro-Israel Senator Lindsey Graham, (R-SC), is one of the most prominent American legislators to back a formal alliance as a bulwark against Iranian threats.

The pro-Israel, U.S. think-tank Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) put out a paper in July suggesting that the parameters could be defined quite narrowly, giving as an example that each country would come to the other’s aid only in case of a major attack, whether nuclear or otherwise.