‘Our friends, enemies see this room, understand our power,’ Gallant tells Austin
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin greets Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant upon his arrival for a bilateral exchange meeting at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., June 25, 2024.
Credit: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eugene Oliver/U.S. Department of Defense. | U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eugene Oliver/U.S. Department of Defense

“The United States will always ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself,” the U.S. defense secretary said.

JNS Staff Report
June 25, 2024

The United States and Israel must, above all, discuss their “extraordinary ties,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told reporters before he met with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon on Tuesday, per an Israeli readout.

“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,” Gallant said, according to his office. “Our friends and our enemies see this room and understand our power.”

The Israeli minister told the U.S. secretary that the Jewish state will never forget that he was the first to fly to Israel after Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack. “You stood with us then, and you stand with us today,” he said.

“Today, we are at a crossroads, that will impact the entire Middle East,” Gallant added. “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.”

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant participate in a bilateral exchange at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., on June 25, 2024. Credit: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eugene Oliver/U.S. Department of Defense.

‘Time is running out’

The Israeli minister also described Iran as the gravest threat to the future of the world.

“Time is running out,” he said. “Now is the time to materialize the commitment of American administrations over the years—the promise to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons.”

Austin reminded Gallant that “this is your second visit to the Pentagon since the horrifying Hamas assault on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023,” per a Pentagon transcript.

“I’ve traveled to Israel four times as secretary of defense, including two visits since Oct. 7, and you and I have spoken by phone more times than I can count,” the U.S. secretary added. “My staff tells me it’s more than 50 times.”

Austin also detailed what he called “major security achievements” of the Biden administration to help protect Israel.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant participate in a bilateral exchange at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., on June 25, 2024. Credit: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eugene Oliver/U.S. Department of Defense.

‘Diplomacy best way to prevent more escalation’

“We know that Israel’s citizens still face a very real and very dangerous threat from Iran,” as well as “from its terrorist partners and proxies, including Hezbollah, the Houthis, and, of course, Hamas,” Austin said. “The United States will always support Israel’s right to defend itself, and the United States will always ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself.”

“You can see that profound commitment yet again in our recent agreement on a third squadron of F-35s for Israel,” he added. “We stand together to ensure that Iran, which is the source of so much of the region’s violence and instability, can never achieve a nuclear weapon.”

The U.S. secretary told the Israeli minister that he is “extremely concerned about the rise in rocket attacks on Israel’s north from Lebanese Hezbollah and the recent surge in tensions” and that a war between Lebanon and Israel “would be a catastrophe for Lebanon and it would be devastating for innocent Israeli and Lebanese civilians.”

“Diplomacy is by far the best way to prevent more escalation,” he said.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stands with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant during the playing of both Israel and U.S. National Anthems before a bilateral exchange meeting at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., June 24, 2024. Credit: U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jack Sanders/U.S. Department of Defense.

‘Increase the flow of humanitarian aid’

Austin also criticized some of the Jewish state’s decisions and said it must do more.

“Israel recently conducted a daring operation to rescue four hostages unjustly held by Hamas in Gaza, and we won’t rest until all of the hostages are safely home, including American citizens,” the U.S. secretary said. “But the only way to bring them all home is disciplined—is principled diplomacy, and we must not miss this moment and we must not risk indefinite war and insurgency.”

He added that Israel is engaged in “a hard fight against a cruel and ruthless foe,” but “I learned firsthand that you can only win in urban warfare by protecting civilians, so Israel must continue to do more to protect Palestinian civilians in Gaza, and that’s both a moral necessity and a strategic imperative.”

“Israel must also continue to increase the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza,” Austin said.

The U.S. secretary also said that he remains “extremely concerned about the attacks by violent Israeli extremists against innocent Palestinians in the West Bank.”

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