There is a growing potential for security cooperation between Israel and its Arab neighbors to tackle common regional challenges, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said Monday at a meeting with IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz.
According to the New York Times, Dempsey said such collaboration with nations “who may not have been willing to be partners in the past” may be increasingly possible due to joint interests and in the face of common threats to stability posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Syria’s civil war and Egypt’s ongoing chaotic state.
“What I mean is the Gulf states in particular, who heretofore may not have been as open-minded to the potential for cooperation with Israel, in any way,” he said.
Such cooperation could involve intelligence sharing and joint exercises, the New York Times reported, quoting anonymous US military officials.
In an indirect reference to recent tensions between Washington and Jerusalem over disparaging comments made by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon earlier this month towards the Obama administration, Dempsey noted that honest and open communication was an important component of US-Israeli relations,.
“The world is complicated enough without our speaking in parables to each other,” Haaretz quoted Dempsey as saying. “This is a time for great clarity and candor, and we can always count on our Israeli partners to do that.”
Gantz himself said “security relations between the IDF and the US military are sturdier than ever.”
Ya’alon met with Dempsey on Sunday, where the minister said the US is “truly our best friend.”
Dempsey also met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two reportedly discussed the US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Last week Ya’alon accused the Obama administration of being weak on Iran, and said Israel would have to act alone to thwart Tehran’s nuclear drive.
The statements, delivered in a closed event at a university but promptly leaked, provoked a harsh response from the US, with US Secretary of State John Kerry calling Netanyahu in protest.