The Israeli ambassador to the US reportedly made a secret trip to Alaska to discuss Israel-US defense ties and cooperation against Iran.
Quoting unnamed Israeli officials, Channel 13 reported Friday that Ron Dermer traveled last week to Alaska, where he held talks on strategic security cooperation and coordination with US about Iran.
The network, which said further details of Dermer’s trip were barred from publication by the military censor, described the trip as marking “an additional and significant upgrade in the security coordination with the US against Iran” and noted the extensive defense ties between Israel and the United States.
It said the censor was expected to allow additional details of the trip to be published in the coming days.
The report comes amid heightened tensions between the US and Iran following US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year from the international agreement to limit the Iranian nuclear program and reimposition of sanctions.
Iran has breached the accord’s caps on uranium enrichment levels and the amount of uranium it can hold, while threatening to further curb its adherence to the deal if it does not get economic relief from the deal’s European signatories.
The US has also accused Iran of being behind a number of recent attacks in the Persian Gulf and last week the Iranian Revolutionary Guard seized a UK-flagged ship near the Strait of Hormuz, a move seen as retaliation for the British military’s capture of a tanker off Gibraltar suspected of carrying oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.
Along with France, Germany, China and Russia, the United Kingdom is one of the remaining signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal.
Amid the tensions surrounding Iran’s nuclear program, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a number of warnings to Tehran, boasting earlier this month that Israel’s US-made F-35 stealth fighters “can reach anywhere in the Middle East.”
Israel has long seen Iran as its greatest threat, while Iranian officials regularly threaten to destroy the Jewish state.
The Channel 13 report Friday also comes just days after Netanyahu vowed to extend Dermer’s tenure by a year despite opposition from the Civil Service Commissioner, which reportedly said his term could only be lengthened by a shorter period due to upcoming elections in September.
Nevertheless, Channel 12 news reported Wednesday that the cabinet is expected to go ahead and vote next week to approve an extension of Dermer’s tenure, with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit having given approval.
Netanyahu hailed Dermer as an “excellent ambassador” earlier this week and had a war of words with the Blue and White party’s Yair Lapid over the envoy.
“Dermer is not an ambassador, he is a political messenger for Netanyahu,” Lapid wrote on Twitter.
Dermer, a Netanyahu confidant and former Republican operative, is currently set to wrap up his stint in Washington at the end of September after serving six years as Israel’s envoy to the US.