Top US general assures Israel of support, coordination

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, testifies before Congress recently. (Yahoo)JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—Amid increasing tension between Jerusalem and Washington over Israel’s urging tougher sanctions on Iran, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived Thursday with a double message: the more coordination between the two allies, the better; and let diplomacy and sanctions work against Iran’s nuclear program.

Dempsey told a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on Friday that coordination and dialogue are the key to improving Israel’s security.

“We have many interests in common in the region in this very dynamic time and the more we can continue to engage each other, the better off we’ll all be,” Dempsey told IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Dempsey assured Israel of the US commitment to Israel’s security. “The simplest message of all, my presence here, I hope reflects the commitment we have with each other and I’m here to assure you that’s the case.”

Gantz responded with a clear reference to Iran’s nuclear threat. “I do know that both our countries share the same interests and values, and I’m sure that we can somehow work it out together,” Gantz said.

One of the purposes of Dempsey’s visit is to persuade Israel to give diplomacy and the growing economic sanctions against Iran time to work, and therefore not to proceed with plans for a deterrent strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Fears have been voiced in Washington recently that Israel might decide to attack Iran without informing the US.

The Obama administration has declared its commitment to stopping Iran’s nuclear program, and has not rejected the option of employing military force should this become necessary. Senior US officials have reiterated that the US will not allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon.

In addition to Barak and Gantz, Dempsey is to meet with the head of Military Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, OC IDF Planning Directorate Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel, President Shimon Peres, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He will also lay a wreath at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial before leaving Israel Friday evening.