US Secretary of Defense James Mattis arrives in Israel next week for his first official visit to the Jewish state since assuming the position, the Pentagon announced Friday.
US Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis — who will visit Israel as part of a week-long trip to several of America’s key Middle East allies, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt — is expected to arrive Thursday to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.
Mattis will also participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, the Pentagon said.
Mattis is anticipated to speak with senior Israeli officials about Iran, Syria, and the fight against the Islamic State terror group. It is unclear if Mattis will also discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which has recently been the purview of President Donald Trump’s international negotiations representative, Jason Greenblatt.
Israeli authorities prefer the active involvement of Greenblatt as Mattis is an ardent supporter of the creation of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, without regard to whether Fatah or Hamas would eventually control the state. Mattis more closely aligns with the Obama administration’s stand in this regard. He praised Obama’s secretary of state, John Kerry, as “wisely focused like a laser-beam” on pushing for the creation of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria in addition to the Hamas entity in Gaza.
Liberman and Mattis met last month in Washington, D.C., where Lieberman told his counterpart the US needs to play a more “active” role in the Middle East. The Israeli defense chief’s comments came before the recent American strike on Syria in response to the Bashar al-Assad regime’s alleged chemical attack against civilians.
“Strategic cooperation between Israel and the US is vital and critical, not just for Israel’s security, but for the security and stability in the Middle East as a whole; and it impacts global security as well. The global axis of evil currently stretches from Iran to North Korea,” Liberman said.
By: JNS.org and World Israel News Staff