November 18, 2010
Ashkenazi In DC: There’s Still Time For Sanctions On Iran To Work
During Pentagon visit, IDF chief confirms Israel, US discussing acquisition of 20 additional F-35 advanced fighter planes
By Hilary Leila Krieger, Jerusalem Post correspondent
WASHINGTON – There’s still time for sanctions against Iran to work, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said Wednesday, backing the American approach days after the prime minister called for a more aggressive approach.
Ashkenazi declined to offer a timeframe for how long Israel was willing to give the sanctions, saying only, “We have some time to watch and see what will be the final outcome.” He did raise the question, though, of whether they would be sufficient to convince the government to change its policy.
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen stressed that “we’ve all been pretty clear here that all options remain on the table, including military options, and will remain on the table in the future,” but that “right now the focus is on dialogue and engagement and sanctions.” He also said, “I think that Iran is on the way to achieve nuclear capability and that that would be a disaster for the region. It would be incredibly destabilizing.”
Last week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Iran must face a “credible military threat,” and Mullen was asked to respond to that assertion at his press conference with Ashkenazi.
Ashkenazi also, for the first time, publicly confirmed that Israel and the US were discussing Jerusalem’s acquisition of additional F-35 advanced fighter planes.
He said that the deal is “still under negotiation” but that, “definitely, we would be more than happy to get them.” Some 20 planes beyond those Israel has already planned to purchase have been reported to be part of a US package of incentives aimed at restarting stalled peace talks in which Jerusalem would place a further threemonth moratorium on construction in the West Bank. Ashkenazi prefaced his comments by saying he wouldn’t address the political aspects of the arrangement.
Ashkenazi was welcomed by an honor guard when he arrived at the Pentagon and was greatly praised by Mullen, who noted that it might be Ashkenazi’s last visit to Washington as chief of staff.
Mullen said that the relationship between the two countries had grown even closer.
“Our military to military relationship runs very deep,” he said. “It’s very broad and it’s very critical, and it has gotten stronger over the last three years.”