Trump floats possible defense treaty days ahead of Israeli elections

By Reuters

  • President appears to try to boost Netanyahu before tight poll
  • PM looks forward to meeting at United Nations in New York

September 14, 2019 "Information Clearing House" -  Donald Trump said on Saturday he had spoken with Benjamin Netanyahu about a possible mutual defense treaty between the two nations, a move that could bolster the Israeli prime minister’s re-election bid days before voters go to the polls.

“I had a call today with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss the possibility of moving forward with a Mutual Defense Treaty, between the United States and Israel, that would further anchor the tremendous alliance between our two countries,” Trump said on Twitter.

He added that he looked forward to continuing discussions later this month, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York.

Netanyahu thanked Trump, saying in a tweet Israel “has never had a greater friend in the White House” and adding that he looked forward to meeting at the UN “to advance a historic Defense Treaty between the United States and Israel”.

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Israel goes to the polls on Tuesday. Trump’s tweet appeared aimed at buttressing Netanyahu’s effort to remain in power by showcasing his close ties to the White House.

Opinion polls predict a close race, five months after an election in which Netanyahu declared himself the winner but failed to put together a coalition government.

Netanyahu’s Likud party is neck-and-neck with the centrist Blue and White party led by former armed forces chief Benny Gantz, who has focused heavily on corruption charges against Netanyahu.

Trump bolstered Netanyahu’s candidacy when he recognized Israel’s claim of sovereignty over the Golan Heights ahead of the elections earlier this year.

Some Israeli officials have promoted the idea of building on Netanyahu’s strong ties to the Trump administration by forging a new defense treaty with the US, focused especially on guarantees of assistance in any conflict with Iran.

Some of Netanyahu’s critics have argued that such an agreement could tie Israel’s hands and deny it military autonomy.

This article was originally published by "Reuters"- -  

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