U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, accompanied by U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Charles Brown, had meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant today in Israel. Austin attempted to counsel restraint to his hosts, but nonetheless promised the full support of the U.S. for Israel’s war in Gaza. While Austin spoke of how Israel should switch to “high-value” targetting, and less civilian casualties, he promised that the U.S. would continue to send arms to Israel.
Both Netanyahu and Gallant, in turn, buttered up the Biden Administration as the leading defender of civilization against the forces of evil. “We think that this is not only our war but, in many ways, your war, because you are leading the forces of civilization in the world,” Netanyahu told Austin as they delivered joint statements, reported the Times of Israel. “This is a battle against the Iranian axis, the Iranian axis of terror, which is now threatening to close the maritime Strait of Bab el-Mandeb. This threatens the freedom of navigation of the entire world.”
Austin replied, “America’s commitment to Israel is unwavering and no individual group or state should test our resolve…. So in the Red Sea, we’re leading a multinational maritime task force to uphold the bedrock principle of freedom of navigation.” Austin said that Houthi attacks on commercial shipping “must stop.” Austin also told Netanyahu that the U.S. will keep sending Israel the equipment “that you need to defend your country,” among them “critical munitions, tactical vehicles and air defense systems.”
In his joint appearance with Gallant, Austin tried to tell his counterpart that chaos will be the result if Israel doesn’t move towards a two-state solution. “We know that the past 72 days have been some of the most painful days in Israel’s history. But it would compound this tragedy if all that was waiting for the Israeli people and your Palestinian neighbors at the end of this awful war was more insecurity, fear and despair,” said Austin.