Jerusalem Post Quote Sen. Graham and Amb. Dermer from JINSA Dinner and Conference On US-Israel Mutual Defense Pact

Lindsey Graham, Ron Dermer endorse US-Israel defense treaty.
Graham discussed the possible Senate move at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) gala event in Washington.

WASHINGTON – Senator Lindsey Graham expressed support on Wednesday for a possible Senate move to ratify a narrow US-Israel mutual defense treaty in 2020.

“I think it will be the biggest advancement in a long time regarding the US-Israel relationship, and I think it will be the biggest deterrent to a big war in a very long time,” Graham said at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) gala event in Washington. “My hope is that we can draft a mutual defense agreement that is consistent with Israel’s ability to defend herself, consistent with the United States’ strategic interest – which is to make sure that our No. 1 ally in the region doesn’t go by the wayside.

“If we can pull this off, I think it would be one of the most important things we’ve ever done to solidify this relationship. I think it will have a calming effect on a region that needs some calm.”

Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer said that Israel’s top officials would welcome such a treaty.

“That’s something that I strongly support,” the ambassador said. “It’s something that has the support of Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, of Israel’s sitting [IDF] Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi [and] of our current national security adviser. And I have spoken to all three of those people directly about it, and they are all positively inclined.

“The treaty would do three things. First, it would give powerful expression to the alliance between America and Israel. The second thing it would provide is a layer of deterrence against the most extreme threats that Israel faces, thereby enhancing both security and stability. And third, it would give a platform to upgrade the alliance between our two countries dramatically. I strongly believe that the mutual defense treaty is part of the effort to strengthen the alliance.”

Dermer also addressed the move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, joking, “Let’s [just] say there were more protests on US college campuses than there were in the Middle East.”

He also mentioned the protests in Iran, and relations between Israel and the Arab world.

“What’s happening behind the scenes in Israel-Arab relations would make your head spin,” said Dermer. “It’s like an iceberg where the greatest strength is below the surface and invisible. I hope more will be done to aid those who are protesting in Iran.”

Originally published on The Jerusalem Post.