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Esper lands in Israel, meets with DM Gantz and PM Netanyahu


Benny Gantz meets with Mark Esper, October 29, 2020 (photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Benny Gantz meets with Mark Esper, October 29, 2020
(photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)

Meeting comes a week after Gantz flew to Washington where the two signed a deal securing Israel's QME.

Defense Minister Gantz hosted on Thursday US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper as part of ongoing talks between the two defense ministries amid procurement talks ahead of the expected sale of F-35 stealth fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates.

Esper, who is on a working visit to the region, met with Gantz and toured an Iron Dome missile defense battery at Ben Gurion Airport where they were briefed on the operation of the system and its importance by Lt.Tova Winick, a lone soldier from San Diego. The two officials were then briefed by Rafael CEO and DDR&D representatives on the defense system recently purchased for the American military.
Thanks
He then held meetings with the Director-General of the Defense Ministry Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amir Eshel, IDF Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi and other senior officers. Gantz later took part in Esper’s meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
During the meeting, the two teams discussed “the critical components of security cooperation” between the two respective bodies in relation to changes in the Middle East and the “imperative to maintain regional security and stability and to confront Iran,” Gantz’s office said in a statement.

Gantz, who has flown to Washington to meet with Esper twice since the normalization of ties between Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi, expressed his appreciation for Esper’s “personal involvement” in the process which led to the two allies to sign a declaration of Washington’s commitment to Israel’s qualitative military edge.
“As the region is changing and taking huge steps forward, we have worked together to make sure that we leverage those changes to maximize peace and stability in our region,” Gantz told Esper.  “The joint declaration we signed last week means that Israel will have the tools it needs to contend with aggressive and destabilizing forces, making it an even more effective ally to the US and creating the conditions for peace to prosper.”
Gantz also thanked Esper for confirming the intentions of the US to “significantly upgrade Israel’s military capacity to the benefit of regional stability.”
In return, Esper expressed his “deep appreciation” for the discourse between the two allies that “has ensured Israel the tools it needs to deal with the changing challenges in the region.”
During Gantz’s whirlwind visit last week, he was informed that Washington plans to notify Congress in the near future of its intention to supply the UAE with “certain weapons systems,” likely the advanced F-35 stealth fighter jet.
And though Israel has long objected to the sales of the advanced multirole jets to the Gulf states, the government dropped its protests against the deal in a joint statement by Gantz and Netanyahu.
The agreement that was signed between Jerusalem and Washington last week will supposedly enable long-term procurement plans that will provide Israel with advanced weapons systems to “significantly upgrade its military capabilities, fortify Israel’s security and regional military superiority and preserve its qualitative military edge in the coming decades,” the defense ministry said after Gantz landed back in Israel following the meeting.
While the ministry has remained tight-lipped about what was agreed to, according to an unconfirmed report in BreakingDefense, Israel may get direct access to the US Space-Based Infrared System, a classified US satellite surveillance grid designed to spot missile launches. 



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