Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday told visiting Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs Gen. Martin Dempsey of the appreciation Israel has for what America’s servicemen and women are doing in the region and for the sake of freedom.
The two men met in Jerusalem during a visit to the country by the top US military commander.
“You’ve been a wonderful friend and a grand champion of America and of America-Israel relations,” Netanyahu said. “We appreciate it. I want to take this opportunity to also express our respect and deep admiration for America’s fighting men and women.
“We know you’re extended around the world, including in our region. We know we have no better friends than the American people, the American governments, the American fighting men and women. You fight for America, but you also fight for freedom,” he said.
Dempsey recalled the US military’s strong ties with IDF commanders, and how Netanyahu, as prime minister, serves the Israeli people.
“The greatest gift has been the friendship that we’ve managed to forge with the leaders in the IDF, and I know you’re proud of them but we are too. It’s our constitution, and you know that that’s what inspires us as I know service to your nation inspires you,” he said.
On Wednesday Dempsey met with President Reuven Rivlin, who told him that Israel respects a ruling by the US Supreme Court earlier this week that said Jerusalem-born Americans cannot list Israel as their birthplace on passports.
Rivlin told Dempsey that since Israel “salutes” the rule of law, it didn’t object to the Supreme Court justices’ decision to uphold the State Department’s right to not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“Of course we have no criticism of the decision of the Supreme Court in Washington,” Rivlin said during an official meeting at the presidential residence in Jerusalem. “They ruled what they had to rule.”
Dempsey, who arrived in Israel on Monday on his sixth and final official visit to Israel, reassured the president that security ties between the two allies would remain strong.
“I am happy to back in Israel. I am here to gain a better understanding with our counterparts in the IDF, of the threats and security challenges, and of what we can do to address them,” he said.
On Tuesday, Dempsey assured Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon that Washington would ensure that Israel maintained its “qualitative military edge” over its potential adversaries in the region.
Tamar Pileggi contributed to this report.