Gantz and VP Harris Meet, Discuss Iran, Ukraine, Palestinians

Meeting with Harris at Munich Security Conference touched on 'the importance of confidence-building measures with the Palestinians,' Gantz says

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz alongside Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris in Munich on Saturday.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz alongside Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris in Munich on Saturday.
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, against the backdrop of global fears over a possible Russian invasion and reports that a new deal on Iran's nuclear program is on its way.

Gantz said after the meeting that it had included discussion of "the importance of expanding the Abraham Accords, the situation in Ukraine, and the importance of confidence-building measures with the Palestinians."

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"I expressed my gratitude to U.S. President Biden and the VP for their commitment to preventing a nuclear Iran," he tweeted. "I told her that any future agreement must include consistent enforcement by the IAEA in addition to handling the open files in the nuclear program."

"I also thanked her for the United States’ important role in maintaining stability in the Middle East, in the face of regional aggression perpetrated by Iran and its proxies," he added.

Gantz also met with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht on Saturday evening.

On Sunday, Gantz is set to deliver a speech and participate in a panel discussion on the Abraham Accords, as well as meet with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace. He has already met with a number of foreign officials during the conference: the prime minister and defense minister of Greece, Finland’s defense minister, Georgia’s prime minister, the president of the World Economic Forum, and the Bahrain’s undersecretary for foreign affairs.

Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks in Washington, Monday.Credit: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/AFP

The meetings come at a time of extremely high tensions between Washington and Moscow, as the Biden administration continues to warn that Russia is poised to invade Ukraine at any moment, possibly staging a "false flag" attack in advance.

On Saturday, separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine ordered a full military mobilization amid a spike of violence in the war-torn region and fears in the West that Russia might use the strife as a pretext for an invasion. With an estimated 150,000 Russian troops now posted around Ukraine’s borders, the long-simmering separatist conflict could provide the spark for a broader attack.

On Friday, the rebels began evacuating civilians to Russia with an announcement that appeared to be part of their and Moscow’s efforts to paint Ukraine as the aggressor.

Benny Gantz at a meeting of his Kahol Lavan party in Jerusalem, earlier this month.

U.S. President Joe Biden said late Friday that based on the latest American intelligence he was now “convinced” that Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to invade Ukraine and assault the capital, Kyiv.

Talks to curb Iran's nuclear program are also at a critical point, with Israeli officials saying a new agreement is "very likely" to be signed soon. The agreement will be a version of the original nuclear agreement the United States withdrew from in 2018, with minor changes and updates, the officials said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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