In Israel, Mattis voiced agreement with Netanyahu on the “common dangers…based on the twin threats of militant Islam,” referring to Iran and ISIS, as well as determination to prevail.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis is on the third leg of a Middle East tour of five countries – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Qatar and Djibouti – to reaffirm “key U.S. military alliances, engage with strategic partners in the Middle East and Africa, and discuss cooperative efforts to counter destabilizing activities and defeat extremist terror organizations,” the State Department said earlier this week.
“Israel has no better friend than America. America has no better friend than Israel,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a statement ahead of his meeting with Mattis in Jerusalem. And this is a partnership based on common values in the deepest sense of the word. We sense a great change in the direction of American policy… I think this is a welcome change, a strategic change of American leadership and American policy.”
The Israeli leader spoke of the “common dangers are based on the twin threats of militant Islam – the Shiite extremists led by Iran and the Sunni extremists led by Daesh [Islamic State/ISIS]. We are committed to thwarting these dangers as we are committed to seize the common opportunities and great opportunities that I think are before us.”
Opportunity for ‘Understanding’ with Arab Neighbors
In that regard, he mentioned “the understanding of many of our Arab neighbors as to the commonality of the threat” posed by Iran and Radical Islamic terror.
“The two dangers that face Israel and all of the other nations in the region that are trying to maintain a stable and peaceful and prosperous region are those that I’m here to discuss with the Prime Minister, especially the week before Holocaust remembrance,” Mattis affirmed.
“I think it’s important that we remind ourselves that if good people don’t band together then bad people can do a lot of damage in this world. And we’re committed to stopping that and doing whatever it takes to pass on peace and freedom to the next generation,” he said.
Mattis: ‘No Doubt’ Syria Retained Chemical Weapons
Backing a recent assessment by a senior Israeli military official, Mattis told a news conference in Tel Aviv Friday morning that Syria still possesses chemical weapons.
Meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Mattis said, “There can be no doubt in the international community’s mind that Syria has retained chemical weapons in violation of its agreement and its statement that it had removed them all.” He did not provide further details based on intelligence sources.
“I can say authoritatively they have retained some; it’s a violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions and it’s going to have to be taken up diplomatically and they would be ill advised to try to use any again. We made that very clear with our strike,” he said.
Liberman also refused to go into specifics, saying, “We have 100 percent information that Assad regime used chemical weapons against rebels,” referring to a sarin gas attack earlier this month that killed at least 90 people, including dozens of children, and wounded many more.
By: World Israel News