Just days after rocket attacks from the south and a tank shell hitting Israel from Syria, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said national security would be a primary focus for his meeting with United States President Donald Trump this week. “I have only one motivation,” the Israeli leader said in comments on Sunday released by his office. “My supreme consideration is to be concerned, first of all, for the security of the State of Israel, to strengthen the steadfast alliance with the U.S., and to strengthen our other national interests which are fundamentally connected to the strength of ties with the U.S.”
Later in those same comments at the Israeli government’s cabinet meeting, Netanyahu came back to the security issue by warning terrorists such as those who attacked the south of Israel. Noting Israel has a “very clear policy,” Netanyahu said, “We are not set on escalation, but we do not fear at all to respond strongly to whoever would attack us.”
The leader’s comments come after the ISIS-aligned Amaq news agency claimed the recent rocket attack from the Egyptian Sinai region was done by an ISIS affiliate, according to a report from Haaretz. Four rockets in total were launched at Israel, three of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system while one hit open territory.
On Sunday, Netanyahu reiterated that “we will respond strongly and aggressively to any attack. We are not prepared to accept a passive drizzle and we make it clear that whoever attacks us will pay dearly.”
As for U.S. relations, Netanyahu noted that he will act according to a “responsible and considered policy.”
The New York Times linked Netanyahu’s comments to encouragement from Education Minister Naftali Bennett to dismiss the Palestinian statehood pursuit in the meeting with Trump, which Bennett posted in Hebrew to Facebook. While noting the “great excitement” ahead of the Trump meeting, Netanyahu said, “I have navigated Israeli-US relations in a prudent manner and I will continue to do so now.” That may indicate the Netanyahu does not intend to make headlines on the Palestinian issue.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, February 12, 2017)