Jerusalem Post Cites JINSA on US-Israel Mutual Defense Pact

Netanyahu, Pompeo Push Forward With US-Israel Defense Pact
By: Lahav Harkov

LISBON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made progress on a defense pact between their countries in their meeting in Lisbon this week, Netanyahu said on Thursday.

“The meeting with Pompeo was critical for Israeli security,” Netanyahu said of the discussion that took an hour and 45 minutes on Wednesday. “We agreed to promote a defense pact.”

Netanyahu said he is aware of opposition to the pact, including from Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz, whom the prime minister updated on the matter, and that it’s understandable.

However, Netanyahu said “We will do it with full cooperation with the IDF and security forces and ensure total freedom of action for the US and the IDF.”

Relevant officials in Israel and the US have reviewed a draft of the agreement, which was originally proposed by the Jewish Institute for National Security in America.

“This is one of our important goals for the coming months and we decided to speed up the work on it,” he said.

The lack of a regular government poses some difficulties in this matter, Netanyahu admitted.

“We will promote what we can and all the legal questions make sense. This just shows we need a unity government… We have to see how to overcome the legal obstacles,” he said.

Those obstacles also apply to annexing the Jordan Valley, which Netanyahu also said came up with Pompeo, but there is no timetable.

“It’s our full right to do it if we want,” Netanyahu said when asked about the International Criminal Court’s concerns about annexation.

Netanyahu and Pompeo also discussed Iran, with the prime minister focusing on the importance of continuing to pressure Tehran.

Netanyahu met with Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa on Thursday, where they discussed four main topics: aiding Africa, technology, water and science.

“We are a superpower of water technology before all else,” Netanyahu stated. “The whole subject of technology and innovation [was discussed].”

In addition, the prime minister said that there is “an opportunity to advance” on a long-term agreement with Hamas negotiated by Egypt, since the IDF assassinated Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata, and that Israel is currently working on it.

“They’ve wanted it for a long time, and the reason they didn’t do it was because every few weeks Abu al-Ata would ignite the area and we’d end up with this or that round” of violence, he said. “Not that we’d recognize them or they’d recognize us, but I think they recognize one thing, that they can’t get rid of us.”

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post