U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis reiterated his country’s support for its “longtime friend and ally” Israel while meeting Friday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mattis and Netanyahu agreed that both countries have a common enemy in militant Islamists and vowed to “do whatever it takes” to achieve peace.
“I think it's important that we remind ourselves that if good people don't band together then bad people can do a lot of damage in this world. And we're committed to stopping that and doing whatever it takes to pass on peace and freedom to the next generation,” Mattis said.
Mattis met with Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Tel Aviv after holding meetings this week with leaders in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Netanyahu said he appreciated the “change in direction” the Trump administration is taking in regards to the relationship between the U.S. and Israel.
“I think this is a welcome change, a strategic change of American leadership and American policy. We have common values and also common dangers,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu said the U.S. and Israel face dual threats from militant Islamists — coming from both Sunni extremists led by the Islamic State and Shiite militants led by Iran. He said the meeting with Mattis would focus on how to deal with those threats.
Mattis is the first member of Trump's cabinet to visit Israel.