Trump backs US-Israel defense treaty

Trump publicly expressed support in a tweet for moving forward with discussions on a U.S.-Israel mutual defense treaty.

By Associated Press

President Donald Trump on Saturday communicated his backing for a bilateral mutual defense pact between the United States and Israel.

The move arrives just days before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to retain his position in national elections.

Netanyahu is perhaps Trump’s closest ally on the world stage, and the U.S. president has expressed optimism that he will survive this Tuesday’s vote.

Trump said a formal defense pact would “further anchor the tremendous alliance between our two countries” and he looks forward to continuing the discussions after the election when they meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly later this month.

In a Twitter post, Netanyahu thanked his “dear friend” Trump. He added, “The Jewish State has never had a greater friend in the White House. I look forward to our meeting at the UN to advance a historic defense treaty between the United States and Israel.”

The vote this week is the second of 2019, after Netanyahu was unable to form a governing coalition following elections in April.

Netanyahu, speaking Saturday on Israeli television, described such a defense pact as “historic” and “great.” The U.S. considers Israel a “major non-NATO ally” and the new pact would situate the Jewish state among other nations with whom the U.S. has separate mutual defense treaties, such as Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand.