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Israel Has Right to Defend Itself, US Reaffirms

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Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin hosts an honor cordon welcoming Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the Pentagon in Washington, June 3, 2021.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin hosts an honor cordon welcoming Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the Pentagon in Washington, June 3, 2021.

Israeli Defense Minster Benny Gantz met with Biden administration officials Thursday and came away with a U.S. affirmation of Israel's right to defend itself and a commitment to restock its Iron Dome missile defense system.

Gantz's counterparts, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan, both reaffirmed U.S. support for Israel's defense.

"The president has expressed his full support for replenishing Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system, which saved so many innocent lives during the most recent conflict," Austin told Gantz.

Before their meeting, Gantz spoke to reporters about Iran's nuclear program.

"Stopping Iran is certainly a shared strategic need of the United States," Israel and other countries, Gantz said, according to The Associated Press.

The Biden administration wants to bring the U.S. and Iran back into the Iran nuclear deal, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has opposed but Gantz stopped short of outwardly opposing Thursday.

"Our dialogue is so important to ensuring that any deal effectively meets its goal of keeping Iran away from nuclear weapons," Gantz said in his remarks before his meeting with Austin.

Gantz did not meet with President Joe Biden, but he did meet with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and with Sullivan.

FILE - White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing in Washington, Feb. 4, 2021.
FILE - White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing in Washington, Feb. 4, 2021.

Sullivan and Gantz discussed the recent clashes between Israel and Palestinian militants that ended late last month with a fragile cease-fire, Emily Horne, a National Security Council spokesperson, said in a statement.

"Mr. Sullivan reaffirmed President Biden's unwavering support for Israel's right to defend itself and commitment to strengthening all aspects of the U.S.-Israel security partnership, including support for the Iron Dome system," Horne said.

Horne also said that Sullivan had emphasized the importance of ensuring that humanitarian aid was sent immediately to "the people of Gaza" and that Sullivan and Gantz had "discussed their common interest in steps to enhance stability, peace and security, not just for Israelis and Palestinians, but across the entire region."

Sullivan and Gantz agreed that the U.S. and Israel would continue to collaborate in the coming weeks to "advance their strategic priorities in the region," Horne said.

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