Defense Secretary Reaffirms U.S. Commitment to IsraelBy Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON | U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta emphasized here Dec. 2 that despite upheaval in the Middle East, the United States remains committed to safeguarding Israel.
The secretary spoke at the opening session of the 2011 Saban Forum, an annual conference of U.S. and Israeli officials and policymakers.
“In this time of understandable anxiety, I would like to underscore one thing that has stayed constant over the past three years of the Obama administration – the determination of the United States to safeguard Israel’s security,” he said. “And that commitment will not change.”
Panetta cited multiple reasons Israel could depend on the United States to continue its staunch commitment to the country’s security.
“I want to be clear,” he said, “that Israel can count on three enduring pillars of U.S. policy in the region, all of which contribute directly to the safety and prosperity of the Israeli people: first, our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security, second, our broader commitment to regional stability, and third, our determination to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”
The defense secretary cited periods of “great progress” and “great challenge and uncertainty” for Israel and U.S. security interests over the course of his career.
“Yet nothing I have seen compares to the dramatic events of the past year — one of change, one of promise, one of uncertainty, [and] one of turmoil,” he said. “A year, we hope, of Arab awakening, a year of setback for al-Qaida, and a year, we believe, of frustration for Iran.”