Two top Israeli intelligence officials reportedly met with senior security advisers to US President Donald Trump two weeks ago, the second such meeting since Trump was elected president in November.
According to a report Sunday in the daily Haaretz, Mossad intelligence agency head Yossi Cohen and acting National Security Adviser Yaakov Nagel met with Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and other unnamed aides two days before Trump’s inauguration on January 20.
The officials were said to have discussed Iran, the civil war in Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The meeting was part of an effort between the Trump administration and Israel’s government to formulate common policies on a number of issues in which the two countries are expected to work closely on in the coming years.
Cohen and Nagel were accompanied to their meeting by Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, who was also present for the two officials’ December meeting.
The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed to Haaretz that Cohen and Nagel met with Flynn during their trip to Washington, but did not release any details of what was discussed during their meeting.
Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with Trump at the White House on February 15, in what will be the two men’s first meeting since Trump was sworn in as president.
Since Trump’s inauguration, the new administration has adopted policies viewed much more favorably by Israel than those of the administration of Barack Obama, who clashed repeatedly with Netanyahu over Iran’s nuclear program and Israeli settlement construction.
Israel has approved the construction of some 6,000 new settlement homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since Trump was sworn in as president, in a series of announcements that until last week were met with silence from the White House.
On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the Trump administration had not yet taken a position on new settlement construction, but suggested they “may not be helpful” in securing peace.
“While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful,” Spicer said.
The Trump administration has also taken a much more hawkish stance towards Iran, with both Flynn and Trump warning the Islamic Republic last week that it had been “put on notice” after firing a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead last Sunday, while US Defense Secretary James Mattis said Saturday that Iran “is the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.“
On Friday, the White House announced fresh sanctions on Iran for violating UN Security Council Resolution 2231 with its recent ballistic missile test. Those targeted by the latest sanctions include various agents, companies and associates involved in procuring ballistic missile technology for Iran.
Iranians, Lebanese, Chinese and Emirati individuals and companies also are now blacklisted from doing any business in the United States or with American citizens.
AP contributed to this report.