Top U.S. Military Official Seeks to Assure Israel on Security (*Actually they met to secretly discuss how they can both help Daesh kill more Syrians) – NYTimes.com
TEL AVIV — The Obama administration on Tuesday increased its efforts to ease Israel’s opposition to a possible nuclear deal with Iran, as the top American military leader assured Israeli officials that the United States would further strengthen Israel’s arsenal of arms, warplanes and cybertechnology.
Israeli military officials pressed Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to expand the long-term maintenance of Israel’s “qualitative military edge” over regional adversaries to include not just better weaponry but also more weaponry and training for what could be a larger Israeli defense force.
The request reflected increased anxiety in Israel not only over an international nuclear pact with Iran, but also over increased American supplies of arms to Arab countries. While these countries mistrust Iran, historically they also have been adversaries of Israel.
Even before meeting with General Dempsey on Tuesday, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon of Israel expressed concern that Washington’s efforts to supply advanced arms to reassure Arab allies worried about Iran could eventually give Israel cause for concern.
“Even if there are not now any hostile designs against us, as we know in the Middle East, intentions are liable to change,” Mr. Yaalon said at a security conference. “The capability will without a doubt be there, and this must be prepared for.”
For Israel, that preparation is taking the form of asking the Obama administration for more of everything, from arms to training to cybertechnology.
“Israel wants to make sure that we’re not just helping them on the qualitative side,” General Dempsey told reporters traveling with him after his meetings. “It’s the notion that size matters.”
Military officials said that no specific new commitments had been made, but that the Pentagon would continue to work with Israel to expand its military.
General Dempsey said that Israel did not want just to “overmatch” Arab states like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates qualitatively. “They want to overmatch them in size as well,” he said.
At the moment, assurance of additional military aid is about the only thing that Israel is getting from the United States. Relations between the two countries have been increasingly tense, as President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remain at odds over an Iran nuclear agreement and over what the White House views as Israeli intransigence on the issue of Palestinian statehood.
Mr. Obama last week reiterated a warning to Israel that Mr. Netanyahu’s election campaigning against a Palestinian state earlier this year may mean that the United States will agree to resolutions in the United Nations that are anathema to Israel. One likely possibility raised by White House officials would be a resolution embodying the principles of a two-state solution that would include Israel’s 1967 borders, with mutually agreed swaps of territory with the future Palestine.
“If, in fact, there’s no prospect of an actual peace process,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2, “then it becomes more difficult to argue with those who are concerned about settlement construction, those who are concerned about the current situation. It’s more difficult for me to say to them, ‘Be patient and wait.’ ”
The president said that nonetheless, his commitment to Israeli security would remain, and General Dempsey’s visit was in many ways meant to reinforce that.
Israel is already helped by a law enacted by Congress in 2008 requiring that arms sales allow Israel to maintain a “qualitative military edge” in the region. All sales to the Middle East are evaluated based on how they will affect Israeli military superiority. But the Obama administration has also viewed improving the militaries of the Gulf Arab states — those that see Iran as a threat in the region — as critical to Israeli security.
General Dempsey’s trip is the second by a high-ranking American official to reassure Israel in the past week. Last week, John O. Brennan, the Central Intelligence Agency director, met with Mr. Netanyahu and other officials.
General Dempsey said he had pointed out to Israeli defense officials that Israel was way ahead of the Gulf Arabs in the race to receive the F-35 fighter jet, considered the jewel of America’s future arsenal. The plane, one of the world’s most expensive weapons projects, has not been marketed to Arab allies of the United States.
“I reminded my counterparts that they are on the path to have the joint strike fighter where others in the region are not,” General Dempsey said, using another term for the F-35.