Ehud Barak, Israel’s defense minister, described the security relationship between the U.S. and Israel as “deeper and stronger than it has been in recent years” in a statement to Israeli media today. Barak met with U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, who is in Israel to oversee a joint military exercise between the two countries.
The record-setting exercise features: “as many as 3,500 U.S. personnel in the region along with 1,000 members of the Israel Defense Forces.” The Times of Israel says the goal of the exercise is to test: “multiple Israeli and American air-defense systems against incoming missiles and rockets from as far away as Iran.” An Israel-based professor told Bloomberg the exercise is a sign of deep cooperation between the two countries:
“This drill sends a message that the pressure will continue, and that despite strategic disagreements between Israel and the U.S. the alliance remains strong, particularly with respect to any Iranian effort to retaliate.”
This isn’t the first time Barak has praised the U.S.-Israeli relationship under President Obama. In July, he told CNN:
“I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing, in regard to our security, more than anything that I can remember in the past.”
Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, echoed Barak’s comments in July, saying:
“When I look at the record of President Obama concerning the major issues, security, I think it’s a highly satisfactory record, from an Israeli point of view.”
Efraim Halevy, Israel’s former spy agency head, said two weeks go in Washington D.C. that the Israel’s relationship with the U.S. is “very good.” He added, “in the last four years we have had a relationship with the U.S. on the practical issues which are important to Israel; the like of which we have never had with almost any other administration.”
The record-setting exercise and the comments by current and former-high level Israeli officials continue to contradict Mitt Romney’s statement that under President Obama there is “turmoil with Israel.”
In July, President Obama signed a $70 million military aid package to Israel. The money was designated for Israel’s “Iron Dome,” a rocket-defense system. Obama also requested over $3 billion in military aid to Israel in his FY 2013 budget.