President Donald Trump is expressing support for a U.S.-Israel mutual defense treaty as his ally, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, faces a tough re-election bid.
The president acknowledged in a Saturday tweet that he had discussed pursuing such a treaty with Netanyahu in advance of today’s election.
“I had a call today with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss the possibility of moving forward with a Mutual Defense Treaty, between the United States and Israel, that would further anchor the tremendous alliance. ... between our two countries,” the president tweeted. “I look forward to continuing those discussions after the Israeli Elections when we meet at the United Nations later this month!”
I had a call today with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss the possibility of moving forward with a Mutual Defense Treaty, between the United States and Israel, that would further anchor the tremendous alliance....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 14, 2019
Netanyahu responded with his own tweet, looking beyond the election.
“Thank you my dear friend President @realDonaldTrump,” he posted. “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.”
Thank you my dear friend President @realDonaldTrump. 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.— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) September 14, 2019
Netanyahu, who was unable to form a coalition government after winning his fifth term in April, is facing a second vote today amid a potential corruption scandal.
According to the Associated Press, Netanyahu addressed a potential defense pact on Israeli television over the weekend, saying such a treaty would be "historic" and "great." The article went on to question the effectiveness of such an accord since both countries are already so closely aligned, adding that the U.S. gives Israel more than $3 billion a year in military aid. The Washington Examiner, however, lists that amount at $4 billion.
Previous discussions of such a treaty were tabled after determining such a pact would be unnecessary, the AP reported.
One of Netanyahu’s opponents, Benny Gantz, a former Israeli Defense Forces chief, is critical of a such a treaty with the U.S., calling it a “serious mistake” during a Sept. 5 conference.
"Such an agreement would be a serious mistake for the State of Israel’s security because a mutual defense treaty requires us to coordinate our security with the United States," Gantz said.
"This is not what we want. We haven’t asked anyone to be killed for our sakes, we haven’t asked anyone to fight for us, and we haven’t asked anyone for the right to defend the State of Israel."
Since his election as U.S. president, Trump has been an ardent supporter of Israel and Netanyahu. In 2017 he ordered the U.S. embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In March, just weeks ahead of the Israeli Prime Minister’s initial re-election campaign, Christian Headlines reported on Trump’s public declaration that the United States was officially recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Lior Mizrahi/Stringer