Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (R) with US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv. (AP/Carolyn Kaster, Pool) (AP/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)
Moshe Ya'alon and Ashton Carter

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is in Washington meeting with his American counterpart to discuss the US package being offered in wake of the Iran nuclear deal and, in particular, how to ensure Israel maintains its qualitative edge amid growing security threats.

In wake of the Iran nuclear deal, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is in Washington to discuss security issues and a US defense package with US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

Carter flew to Jerusalem in July, before stopping in Saudi Arabia, in order to assuage fears regarding the agreement between Iran and the six US-led global power. During that visit, Ya’alon stressed to the US official that Jerusalem “greatly disagrees” with the deal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu labeled it a “historic mistake.”

Both Israel and the Gulf States are concerned that the deal not only fails to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, but also frees up billions of dollars that could be used to support worldwide terror.

“The United States is Israel’s strategic pillar, and we have no greater friend,” Ya’alon commented on Twitter Sunday evening, saying he was looking forward to meeting with Carter. Talks between the two diplomats began Tuesday morning.

Speaking at a memorial ceremony Monday evening at the American embassy in Washington for former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated in 1994 by an Israeli extremist at a peace rally, Ya’alon reiterated that Israel desires peace with the Palestinians.

“This is an opportunity to say it again, loud and clear: We extend our hand in peace to our Palestinian neighbors,” he declared, adding that Israel “is not violating the status quo on the Temple Mount, whatsoever. This is a lie. We uphold freedom of religion and respect the beliefs of every person.”

Nevertheless, he said, he and Carter will “discuss how to further increase the IDF’s capacity and capabilities to maintain our qualitative edge, given increased and growing regional threats on the security of our country.”

Carter, Ya’alon said, “has time and again proven his commitment to the security of the State of Israel,” adding that the “relationship between the United States and Israel is based on shared values and interests, and is clearly expressed in the strong ties between our defense establishments, armed forces and intelligence agencies.”

“We will discuss how to further increase the IDF’s capacity and capabilities to maintain our qualitative edge, given increased and growing regional threats on the security of our country,” Ya’alon explained.

He also discussed the “intense wave of terror attacks…perpetrated by Palestinians, who have been driven by incitement and lies against the State of Israel.”

“We will fight terror and win, because we have no other choice,” Ya’alon asserted.

By: Terri Nir, United with Israel
(With files from The Jerusalem Post)