Israel: We protect US troops overseas
Israel’s Ambassador to Washington Michael Oren attributes the relations between the US and Israel to protecting the lives of American soldiers abroad.
Oren noted that Israel supplies Washington with the intelligence it needs in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and provides US troops with the equipment they use in the battlefield.
Speaking in an interview with CNN on Sunday, the Israeli envoy said if Israel did not exist, extremists would join al-Qaeda and would form a united front against the United States. “The US is much safer thanks to Israeli-American cooperation,” he said.
Brushing away speculations of a purported strain in US-Israeli ties due to the latter’s refusal to halt its West Bank settlement expansions, Oren stressed that the allies’ relationship is “excellent.”
Western media indicated deep tensions between Washington and its close Mideast ally following Tel Aviv’s announcement of plans for 1,600 more settlement units in East Jerusalem (al-Quds) while US Vice-president Joe Biden was in Israel to help jumpstart Washington-sponsored “proximity talks” with the Palestinians.
The commander of the US Central Command, Gen. David Patraeus, also made a statement to Congress last month, warning about the Arab nations’ response to the close ties between the US and Israel, while most Arab leaders have yet to give a green light for normalizaion of ties with Israel.
Regarding the settlement construction in East al-Quds, Oren repeated Israel’s claim on the city as its capital.
The ambassador’s remarks on settlements were followed by those of Israel’s hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who vowed to push ahead with expansions “in the North and the South, and certainly in Jerusalem (al-Quds).”