Top U.S. general to visit Israel amid strategy differences

JERUSALEM Sat Mar 29, 2014 7:40am EDT

Chairman of the Join Chief of Staff Army General Martin Dempsey speaks during a retirement ceremony at the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Maryland March 28, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool

Chairman of the Join Chief of Staff Army General Martin Dempsey speaks during a retirement ceremony at the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Maryland March 28, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan Smialowski/Pool

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The United States' top military officer will visit Israel next week where he will meet the defense minister who has angered Washington by criticizing its strategies in the Middle East and Ukraine.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, will meet Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon in Jerusalem on Sunday, an Israeli government official said on Saturday. Another official said he was expected to stay through Tuesday.

In a statement, the Israeli military said Dempsey and his hosts would discuss "issues of mutual strategic interest, while continuing to build on this important defense relationship".

The visit would reflect "the United States' unwavering commitment to Israel's security," it said.

The U.S. State Department has said it is disappointed Yaalon has not apologized for remarks he made at a closed-door meeting this month ridiculing Secretary of State John Kerry's push for an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord and saying that Washington's handling of the Ukraine crisis projected weakness.

In remarks leaked to the media, Yaalon, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, suggested that Israel might have to make good on a long-standing threat to attack Iran's nuclear program unilaterally if it lost faith in Washington,

He responded to Washington's condemnation by saying he valued the alliance, but stopped short of apologizing.

The Israeli military said the Dempsey visit would include media opportunities but that these had not been finalized.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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Comments (5)
stambo2001 wrote:
Oh-oh, when that many stars goes on walk-about you know somethings gonna happen soon.

Mar 29, 2014 7:47am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Tiu wrote:
Israel, or as it was then the yet to be Jewish Homeland in Palestine (as per the Balfour Declaration), has been going over the heads of Generals since Allenby was still fighting the Turks on his way to capturing Jerusalem (or at least dropping heroin cigarettes on them by airplane), e.g. since 1917. The General may as well relieve himself into the wind.

Mar 29, 2014 8:52am EDT  --  Report as abuse
boreal wrote:
While the US and NATO are busy feverously debating how many Pussy Riot angels can dance or have public intimacy on the head of a single pin and what to do about the staged freedom and democracy uprising in Ukraine that brought about the Crimean referendum and the world’s attention is diverted from Iran, Israel may feel an opportune time to resurrect its Don Quixote complex and attack its imagined arch enemy, dragging the unwilling US with it into another costly ME quagmire.

Mar 29, 2014 10:09am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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