Israeli defense minister urges US cooperation against ‘Iran and its proxies’ as war with Hezbollah on horizon

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Israeli defense minister urges US cooperation against ‘Iran and its proxies’ as war with Hezbollah on horizon

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Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, during a visit to the Pentagon on Tuesday, urged the U.S. to continue cooperating against “Iran and its proxies” after the Associated Press reported that the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff indicated the U.S. won’t likely be able to help Israel defend itself against a broader Hezbollah war as well as it helped Israel fight off an Iranian barrage of missiles and drones in April.

“The President, the Administration, and you, Mr. Secretary, have been with us since day one,” Gallant said according to a release from his office after the meeting. “This includes working together to defend Israel, against a massive attack, by Iran and its proxies.”

“Today, we are at a crossroads that will impact the entire Middle East,” Gallant continued.  “I am here to discuss the ways to achieve our common goals – ensuring the security of the State of Israel and projecting the powerful ties between our countries.”

Israeli officials last week warned about a possible full-scale war with Hezbollah, claiming the two forces were on the “brink.” An IDF spokesman blamed “Hezbollah’s aggression” for driving the two forces to such a desperate place. 

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, standing right, and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, standing left, listen to the playing of the Israeli National Anthem during an arrival ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, Tuesday, June 25, 2024. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

Both Gallant and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have said that Israel is “committed to the diplomatic process,” but Netanyahu insisted that any deal could only occur “on our terms.” 

“We will do what is necessary,” Netanyahu said. “I can assure the citizens of Israel that if we are required to take on this challenge, we will do it. We can fight on several fronts, and we are also preparing for it.”   

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Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah delivers a televised speech during a gathering to mark annual Quds (Jerusalem) Day commemorations in Beirut’s southern suburb on April 5, 2024.  (Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images)

But Joint Chiefs of Staff Charles Q. Brown Jr. this week warned the U.S. is unlikely to help Israel in an all-out conflict against Hezbollah amid fears that Iran “would be more inclined to support Hezbollah” if the U.S. got involved. 

The Associated Press reported that Brown also raised concerns that any conflict that bled into Lebanon would ultimately trigger a wider conflict and endanger U.S. forces.

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Jens Stoltenberg Charles Q. Brown Jr.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Charles Q. Brown Jr. attend the NATO defense ministers’ meeting at the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 13, 2024. (Reuters/Johanna Geron/File Photo)

“Think about the second order of effect of any type of operation into Lebanon, and how that might play out and how it impacts not just the region, but how it impacts our forces in regions as well,” Brown reportedly said.

Gallant in his statement Tuesday stressed that Iran is “the greatest threat to the future of the world… and time is running out.” 

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, second from left, sit down for a meeting at the Pentagon in Washington, Tuesday, June 25, 2024.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, second from left, sit down for a meeting at the Pentagon in Washington, Tuesday, June 25, 2024. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

“Now is the time to materialize the commitment of American Administrations over the years — the promise to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons,” Gallant said. “Above all, we must discuss our extraordinary ties: Projecting power, together; discussing areas of disagreement as friends do; and standing strong together in the face of attacks – from missile attacks, to diplomatic attacks on the global stage.”

The U.S. and Israel have agreed to a meeting of the strategic consultative group on Iran in mid-July, where the two sides will assess their strategy regarding Tehran, Axios reporter Barak Ravid wrote on social media platform X. 

THE Associated Press contributed to this article.

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