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Austin tells Bennett: We’ll make sure Israel can defend itself against Iran

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WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken in back-to-back meetings on Wednesday, during which the premier was assured that the Biden administration would supply Israel with the means necessary to defend itself against Iran.

Bennett is in Washington for the first time since becoming prime minister, holding a series of meetings with top Biden administration officials and the US president — with the Iranian nuclear threat the most pressing issue on his agenda.

“The Department of Defense is also committed to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge, and to ensur[ing] that Israel can defend itself against threats from Iran, its proxies, and terrorist groups,” Austin told reporters before entering his meeting with Bennett at the Pentagon, noting Iran’s “alarming nuclear steps and continuing regional aggression.”

“Iran must be held accountable for acts of aggression in the Middle East and on international waters,” Austin said. The defense secretary pointed the finger squarely at Tehran for the July 30 attack on the Israeli-linked Mercer Street tanker in the Gulf of Oman in which two people were killed.

The defense secretary added that the “US is committed to strengthening its strategic relationship with Israel. The administration is committed to Israel’s security and its right to self-defense.”

“That is unwavering. It is steadfast,” said Austin, noting the current 10-year memorandum of understanding worth $3.8 billion in defense aid annualy that was signed during the Obama administration.

Austin added that the US is also committed to the........

© The Times of Israel

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