WASHINGTON, April 21, 2017 —
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, speaking to reporters alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today in Jerusalem before a sit-down meeting, said the United States is committed to achieving peace in the Middle East.
Mattis said he was honored to be in Israel, “our longtime friend and ally in the region.”
Addressing Regional Threats
The secretary said he’s in Israel to discuss “the two dangers [Iran and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] that face Israel and all of the other nations … that are trying to maintain a stable and peaceful and prosperous region.”
Mattis noted that he was particularly glad to be visiting the week before the Holocaust Remembrance.
“I think it’s important we remind ourselves that if good people don’t band together, then bad people can do a lot of damage in this world,” he said. “We’re committed to stopping that and doing whatever it takes to pass on peace and freedom to the next generation.”
Netanyahu said he had heard and read a lot about the secretary and that it was a pleasure to welcome him to Israel.
“I think this is a propitious moment,” the prime minster said. “Israel has no better friend than America, and America has no better friend than Israel. This is a partnership based on common values in the deepest sense of the word.”
Netanyahu praised both Mattis and President Donald J. Trump for “forthright” words about Iran and “forthright deeds against the use of chemical weapons by Iran’s proxy, Syria.”
He referred to the April 6 U.S. launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles against Al-Shayrat Air Base in Syria that Trump authorized in retaliation for the regime of dictator Bashar Assad using banned chemical weapons to attack his own people April 4.
The U.S. response to the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons against its own people “has been appreciated around the world and in our region,” the prime minister said.
The Israeli prime minister said the United States and Israel face common dangers from “militant Islam: the Shiite extremists led by Iran, [and] the Sunni extremists led by [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria].”
Netanyahu added, “We are committed to thwarting these dangers, as we are committed to seize the common opportunities, the great opportunities, that I think are before us.”
(Follow Karen Parrish on Twitter: @dodnewskparrish)