US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say they discussed a “mutual defence treaty” between the two countries.
The announcement, on the eve of Israel’s election, was greeted with scepticism by commentators who noted that Trump has previously given his Israeli friend “good news” stories before important ballots, such as recognising the Golan Heights as Israeli before April’s vote.
UK-Israel think-tank BICOM this week described Trump’s mutual defence pact comments as “clearly an election gift to Netanyahu”.
Details and timeframes for any treaty were light on the ground, but Trump tweeted that discussions would continue at the UN General Assembly in New York later this month.
Netanyahu used the news to his political advantage against rivals from Blue and White, a party comprising three former IDF chiefs. He said such a treaty would be “historic,” adding that Israel had “never had a greater friend in the White House”.
A US-Israeli mutual defence pact has been mooted for decades, but the IDF has been reluctant, since it may give the US a veto over Israeli action, and may require the sharing of secrets that Israel currently does not even share with its closest ally.
Israeli military planners have also asked whether it would require IDF soldiers to join American military action overseas, former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi asking: “Are we going to send the Golani Brigade to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan?”
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