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September 14, 2019 1:17 pm

Trump Floats Possible Defense Treaty Days Ahead of Israeli Elections

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

US President Donald Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold up a proclamation recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights as Netanyahu exits the White House from the West Wing in Washington, US March 25, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo.

President Donald Trump said on Saturday he had spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about a possible mutual defense treaty between the two nations, a move that could bolster Netanyahu’s reelection bid just days before Israelis 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 those discussions later this month on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York.

The timing of Trump’s tweet, just days before Israel’s election on Tuesday, appeared aimed at buttressing Netanyahu’s effort to remain in power by showcasing his close ties to Trump.

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

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

Trump previously 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 United States, focused especially on guarantees of assistance in any conflict with Iran.

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

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