Defense Minister Benny Gantz received a pledge of US support for whoever is Israel’s next leader Thursday as he met with top officials in Washington while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was facing ouster back home.
“We’re not going to speak to government formation while it’s in process,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said after Gantz met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“Regardless of what happens, regardless of what government is in place, our stalwart support, our ironclad support for Israel will remain,” he said.
Gantz was in Washington just after a coalition of diverse opposition parties, to which he belongs, struck a deal Wednesday to remove Netanyahu from office after 12 years in power.
Questions remained, though, over whether the coalition can hold together, as the final coalition agreements have yet to be formally released and negotiations are expected to continue until the swearing-in, which is likely to take place in some 10 days.
If the emerging government is sworn in, Israel will have a new prime minister for the first time since 2009. Along with the over 12 consecutive years he has served as premier since then, Netanyahu was also prime minister for three years in the late 1990s.
Earlier Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki similarly said the strategic partnership with Israel will continue if Netanyahu is replaced.
“Israel will remain an important strategic partner, one where you have an abiding security relationship, and that will continue,” Psaki said when asked about the matter, according to Reuters.