U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter will arrive in Israel on Sunday evening, ahead of meetings to discuss Israel’s security needs with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
Carter’s visit comes only days after a phone conversation between Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, after which Kerry described Netanyahu’s claim that a better Iran deal could have been obtained as “fantasy.” Carter will be making his first working visit to Israel since assuming office last February. The two defense ministers will meet on Monday, while Carter is set to meet Netanyahu on Tuesday.
Carter’s visit had been planned prior to last week’s nuclear agreement between Iran and the six world powers. Senior sources in the Israeli defense establishment claimed the deal legitimized Iran as a nuclear “threshold state,” and will enable it to continue funding terrorist organizations operating against Israel, including Hezbollah and Hamas.
The Pentagon described Carter’s visit as a continued search for solutions to some of the critical security challenges facing Israel, including stopping the unsettling actions of Iran (with regard to Israel’s security), as well as discussing ways to prevent terrorist attacks.
After his visit to Israel, Carter will visit Saudi Arabia and Jordan. In Jordan, he will focus on the operations of coalition partners in their fight against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL). Carter will meet with officers from several states involved in the fighting, as well as with Jordanian army representatives who are participating in combat missions.