Defense Secretary James Mattis met with top Israeli leaders on Friday and said that the United States “maintains absolute and unwavering commitment to Israel’s security,” The Times of Israel reported.
Speaking in Tel Aviv alongside Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Mattis said that while the nuclear deal with Iran remains “in force, … that in no way mitigates against or excuses the other Iranian activities in the region including the war in Yemen that grinds on and what they’re doing in Syria.”
The defense secretary appeared to be echoing concerns shared by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who said Wednesday that “a comprehensive Iran policy requires that we address all of the threats posed by Iran, and it is clear there are many.”
Mattis also emphasized that Iran threatens Israel “with ballistic missiles, through its maritime and cyber activities and through proxies and surrogates, including Lebanese Hezbollah, a terrorist organization helping to keep Assad in power in Syria.”
“I hope that with your help we will be able to overcome these threats and bring peace and stability to this region,” Liberman told Mattis, stressing that Iranian belligerence poses a danger not just Israel, but the entire world.
Mattis added that there is “no doubt” that Syria still possesses chemical weapons.
Mattis also met in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that “the common dangers” faced by the U.S. and Israel “are based on the twin threats of militant Islam – the Shiite extremists led by Iran and the Sunni extremists led by Daesh.”Mattis responded, “The two dangers that face Israel and all of the other nations in the region that are trying to maintain a stable and peaceful and prosperous region are those that I’m here to discuss with the Prime Minister, especially the week before Holocaust remembrance.”
“I think it’s important that we remind ourselves that if good people don’t band together then bad people can do a lot of damage in this world,” he added. “And we’re committed to stopping that and doing whatever it takes to pass on peace and freedom to the next generation.”
The defense secretary also met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. His visit to Israel is the first by a member of President Donald Trump’s cabinet.
[Photo: Times of Israel / YouTube ]