Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. commander of the US Central Command. (AFP)

January 30, 2021

Head of the United States military’s Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie led Friday in Israel a seminar that witnessed deliberation on the defense priorities and challenges shared by the two militaries, including regional threats, chiefly Iran.

Earlier, McKenzie held meetings with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, and the head of Mossad, Yossi Cohen.

McKenzie “will conduct a strategic assessment” with Kochavi during the visit, according to a statement by the Israeli Army.

“Military and strategic relations between the United States and Israel have for many years been an important component of establishing Israel’s national security and its superiority over its enemies,” Kochavi said.

He added: “There is no doubt that this partnership with the United States plays an important role in combating common threats, especially with Iran.”

McKenzie’s two-day visit to Israel is the first since the Pentagon announced that Israel was moving under CENTCOM’s purview.

Gantz lauded the shift saying it would “afford Israel an opportunity to deepen cooperation with new regional partners and broaden operative horizons,” according to a statement from his office.

McKenzie’s visit to Israel began with a short meeting with Kochavi on Thursday night.

Kochavi had publicly condemned US President Joe Biden’s stated intention to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying that such a move was “bad” and “not the right thing to do” and insinuating that if the White House went ahead with the plan, the Israeli Army could take unilateral military action against Tehran to block its nuclear program.

The meeting between McKenzie and Cohen addressed the Iranian nuclear activity as well as the situation in Syria.

Asharq Al-Awsat

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