PM Netanyahu (R) with Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford. (Kobi Gideon/GPO) (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Netanyahu Dunford

Stressing the close bonds and shared interests between the two nations, Gen. Dunford met with Israel’s leadership to discuss the security challenges both countries face together. 

In Israel on Sunday, the top US military officer Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pledged further military cooperation with the Jewish State in meetings with the country’s leaders, amid increasing Israeli worries about Iranian involvement in the Syrian civil war.

Dunford met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and they acknowledged that while the US and Israel differ on the Iran nuclear agreement, the two nations must also deal with nefarious Iranian activities in the region. The seven-nation nuclear pact formally took effect Sunday, and could eventually provide Iran relief from international sanctions in exchange for restricting its nuclear program, which Israel fears Iran will exploit to broaden its regional influence and fuel its global terror network.

Navy Capt. Greg Hicks, a spokesman for Dunford, said the meeting at Netanyahu’s residence included discussions about Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists, Iranian influence and Iran’s ties to Hezbollah.

“There’s no shortage of challenges, and I think that there’s common agreement that we have to stop this aggression in the region, but specifically the aggression that is aimed at Israel,” Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting. “There’s a lot to talk about — how to bolster our common security interests and Israel’s ability to defend itself, by itself, against these and other threats.”

“The visit continues a steady exchange of dialogue and cooperation between the military leaders of both nations in what has been a strong and enduring partnership,” the US embassy stated.

Dunford, who took over as chairman on October 1, is on his first overseas trip as chairman. He said he made Israel his first stop, reflecting the important relationship the US has with the Israelis.

“I’m confident that the solution to those challenges is our cooperation and that’s what I’m committed to, and that’s why I’m here today,” Dunford said as the meeting with Netanyahu started.

During his two days in Israel, Dunford met with Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, the commander-in-chief of the Israel Defense Forces at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, and with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and other military leaders.

During the meeting with Ya’alon, the two men briefly mentioned the expected discussions about a military aid package for Israel. Hicks said the subject came up “in passing” and that additional talks are forthcoming.

The discussions had been sidelined by the disagreement over the Iran deal. But in August, President Barack Obama indicated that conversations would “move rapidly” and would include next-generation missile defense programs.

Dunford’s visit to Israel coincided with the recent spike in Palestinian violence and terrorism around the country, including a terror attack at a southern bus station Sunday when an Arab armed with a gun and knife opened fire, killing an Israeli soldier and wounding 10 others. The terrorist was shot and killed.

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) and the US Air Force on Monday commenced on the “Blue Flag” joint exercise.

By: AP and United with Israel Staff