Gantz to Fly to Washington to Meet With U.S. Defense Secretary, Pentagon Officials

Defense minister to discuss Israel's qualitative military edge in region, Iran policy with Mark Esper on trip, during which he is to limit contact with others

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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Benny Gantz, alternate prime minister and defense minister,  outside the city hall of Bnei Barak on September 6, 2020.
Benny Gantz, alternate prime minister and defense minister, outside the city hall of Bnei Barak on September 6, 2020.Credit: AFP
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

Defense Minister Benny Gantz is to meet U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and other Pentagon officials in Washington on Tuesday, the Defense Ministry said Monday.

Gantz is scheduled to fly out on Monday night and return home on Thursday. He will take a commercial flight and be joined by a few senior staffers, including his chief of staff, the military secretary, and the director of the Defense Ministry's bureau of political-military affairs.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been briefed on the trip, which will include meetings to discuss maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region, international policy vis-à-vis Iran and strategy for stopping its expansion and entrenchment in the Middle East, as well as defense cooperation and procurement between the two countries. While Gantz is abroad, lawmaker Michael Biton, who serves as minister for social and civil matters within the Defense Ministry, will act as defense minister.

Gantz and those accompanying him will be tested for the coronavirus and instructed to enter quarantine upon their return. Because of the pandemic, Gantz will only be in contact with a limited number of delegates and U.S. officials.

Gantz will not be required to undergo the usual security check, will be permitted to drive directly to the plane and will board and disembark separetely from the other passengers. He will only be in contact with others, the Defense Ministry said, during meals, in the hotel and at meetings.

Netanyahu visited Washington last week to take part in the signing of agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The signing ceremony was overseen by U.S. President Donald Trump, while Netanyahu was joined by the UAE's Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain's Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayan.

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