Israel and the United States have secretly signed a far-reaching joint memorandum of understanding providing for full cooperation to deal with Iran’s nuclear drive, its missile programs and its other threatening activities, an Israeli TV report said.
The document was signed on December 12 at the White House, culminating intensive talks between representatives of the major Israeli and American intelligence and defense hierarchies, headed by the US and Israeli national security advisers, H. R. McMaster and Meir Ben-Shabbat, respectively, the Channel 10 report said Thursday.
Citing both American and Israeli officials, the report said the document is designed to translate into “steps on the ground” the positions set out by US President Donald Trump in his October 13 speech on Iran, in which he decertified the Iran nuclear deal.
At what the TV report described as a “secret” meeting at the White House, the US and Israel formulated and signed a joint agreement on strategy and policy regarding Iran. Specifically, they agreed to set up joint teams to handle various aspects of the Iranian threat.
One such joint team, the report said, will deal with Iranian activity in Syria and Tehran’s support for the Hezbollah terror organization.
Another joint team will deal with both diplomatic and intelligence activities designed to grapple with Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.
A third joint team, it was reportedly agreed, would grapple with Iran’s ballistic missile program and its efforts to build accurate missile systems in Syria and Lebanon.
Finally, a fourth team would oversee preparation for any escalation by Iran and/or Hezbollah.
McMaster and Ben-Shabbat signed the joint document, the TV report said, quoting a “senior US government” source and “senior Israeli officials.”
Quoting the Israeli officials, Channel 10 said that the meeting confirmed that the US and Israel “see eye to eye on the trends and processes in the region,” and have now reached agreement on the strategy and policy required to deal with them.
“With all due respect to President Trump’s [December 6] declaration on Jerusalem [as the capital of Israel]” Channel 10 reporter Barak Ravid said, the December 12 “dramatic understandings” would have “a far greater impact on the security of Israel’s citizens.”
In a speech on October 13, Trump announced he would not recertify the Iranian nuclear deal, and outlined a new, tougher approach toward Tehran.
Trump said he was launching the new strategy to check Iran’s “fanatical regime” and warned that 2015’s landmark international nuclear deal could be terminated at any time.
In addition, outlining the results of a review of efforts to counter “aggression” by Tehran and its proxies in a series of Middle East conflicts, Trump ordered tougher sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and on its ballistic missile program.
Trump said the agreement, which defenders say was only ever meant to curtail Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, had failed to address Iranian subversion in the region and its illegal missile program.
The US president said he supported efforts in Congress to work on new measures to address those threats without immediately torpedoing the broader deal.
According to Israel’s top foreign policy reporter Barack Ravid, the United States and Israel have reached a historic agreement to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
- Covert and diplomatic action to block Iran’s path to nuclear weapons – according to the U.S. official this working group will deal with diplomatic steps that can be taken as part of the Iran nuclear deal to further monitor and verify that Iran is not violating the deal. It also includes diplomatic steps outside of the nuclear deal to put more pressure on Iran. The working group will deal with possible covert steps against the Iranian nuclear program.
- Countering Iranian activity in the region, especially the Iranian entrenchment efforts in Syria and the Iranian support for Hezbollah and other terror groups. This working group will also deal with drafting U.S.-Israeli policy regarding the “day after” in the Syrian civil war.
- Countering Iranian ballistic missiles development and the Iranian “precision project” aimed at manufacturing precision guided missiles in Syria and Lebanon for Hezbollah to be used against Israel in a future war.
- Joint U.S.-Israeli preparation for different escalation scenarios in the region concerning Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.
An anonymous Israel official told Ravid, “[T]he U.S. and Israel see eye to eye the different developments in the region and especially those that are connected to Iran. We reached at understandings regarding the strategy and the policy needed to counter Iran. Our understandings deal with the overall strategy but also with concrete goals, way of action and the means which need to be used to get obtain those goals.”
The agreement follows the United Nations defying President Trump, voting 128 to 9 against his decision to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the US embassy to the Holy City.
President Trump warned countries that voted against the United States at the UN that he may cut off their foreign aid.
Trump told reporters, “They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us. Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot.”
The Trump administration issued a statement Sunday evening announcing the United States has made a ‘significant reduction,’ in its United Nations budget.
“Ambassador Haley on the United States Negotiating a Significant Reduction in the UN Budget”
Today, the United Nations agreed on a budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. Among a host of other successes, the United States negotiated a reduction of over $285 million off the 2016-2017 final budget. In addition to these significant cost savings, we reduced the UN’s bloated management and support functions, bolstered support for key U.S. priorities throughout the world, and instilled more discipline and accountability throughout the UN system.
“The inefficiency and overspending of the United Nations are well known. We will no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of or remain unchecked. This historic reduction in spending – in addition to many other moves toward a more efficient and accountable UN – is a big step in the right direction. While we are pleased with the results of this year’s budget negotiations, you can be sure we’ll continue to look at ways to increase the UN’s efficiency while protecting our interests,” wrote Ambassador Nikki Haley.
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