Benny Gantz, the Israeli defence minister, returned to Jerusalem on Friday following a brief visit to the United States to confer with authorities about the danger presented by “Iran’s aggressive behaviour in the Middle East.”
Gantz arrived in Washington, D.C., on Thursday for a series of meetings at the White House and the Pentagon.
At the White House, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Gantz expressed a determination to counter threats from Iran, according to an official summary of the meeting.
Gantz also met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and members of American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group, before he returning to Israel on Thursday night.
Gantz is the first Israeli leader to visit the White House since President Joe Biden took office in January.
Before his meeting with Blinken, Gantz said he was looking forward to discussing “the challenges that we have with Iran, with the Palestinians.”
“As far as Gaza is concerned, we do look for stability and prosperity for everybody. And as defense minister, I think the combination between moving forward with construction and making sure that everything stays secure — it’s very important for me,” he said, according to a statement from the State Department.
In his meeting with Austin, Gantz spoke of cooperation to address regional security challenges, “including threats posed by unmanned aerial vehicles,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
Prior to the meeting, Gantz stressed the need to stop Iran’s nuclear program.
“Iran continues to develop nuclear weapons and contributes to all militias throughout the Middle East,” he said. “Let me be clear, Iran is, first and foremost, a global and regional problem. And it is also an existential threat to Israel.”
Addressing Iran is a “shared strategic need of the United States, Europe, the countries in the Middle East, and Israel, and for the people of Iran.” according to Gantz.
Gantz reportedly asked the Pentagon to supply the Israeli military with precision-guided bombs and to resupply the Iron Dome missile defence system.
Approximately 1,400 Hamas missiles were believed to have been intercepted by the Iron Dome during conflict between Israel and the Palestinian organisation Hamas last month. Austin confirmed Biden’s support for military help to the system at the discussion with Gantz.
Earlier this week, Israeli opposition legislators unveiled a new power-sharing agreement that would replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and bring in the country’s first leadership transition in 12 years.
According to the deal, Yamina Party leader Naftali Bennett will remain prime minister for two years before being followed by Yesh Atid Party leader Yair Lapid.