Wednesday, September 22nd | 16 Tishri 5782

September 2, 2021 3:59 pm

Israel Moves Under US Central Command Responsibility, Seeking More Cooperation With Arab Neighbors Facing Iran

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

US CENTCOM commander Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. walking with IDF Chief of Staff LTG Aviv Kohavi. Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

The Biden administration has officially moved Israel to the US Central Command’s (CENTCOM) area of responsibility, enabling greater cooperation with increasingly friendly Arab states in the region facing a common threat in Iran.

“The realignment, announced by the Defense Department in January strengthens the strategic US-Israeli defense relationship and offers opportunities to deepen operational collaboration between the Israel Defense Forces and CENTCOM’s many partners in the region,” CENTCOM said in a statement Wednesday.

The IDF’s Chief of the General Staff, LTG Aviv Kochavi, spoke Wednesday night to CENTCOM Commander General Frank McKenzie, discussing various regional issues. McKenzie made his first visit on the job to Israel in 2019.

Kochavi expressed his appreciation for US commitment to Israel’s security, and the two generals agreed to deepen ties between the IDF and CENTCOM.

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“CENTCOM will now work to implement the US government commitment to a holistic approach to regional security and cooperation with our partners,” the command emphasized in the statement. “The US government’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security remains enduring and ironclad.”

The decision to move Israel to the CENTCOM area of responsibility was first announced under the Trump administration in January. Until now, US military responsibility for Israel fell under the European Command’s (EUCOM) AOR, to avoid friction between the Jewish state and many of its Arab neighbors.

As Israel normalized ties with Arab countries like Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates under the so-called Abraham Accords one year ago, the inclusion is believed to facilitate coordination with American forces in the region and Arab partners to combat shared threats.

Analysts at Washington, DC-based Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) said the move would send a “strong deterrent signal” to Iran.

“Positioning Israel in CENTCOM could expand new diplomatic ties from the Abraham Accords by promoting closer, mutually beneficial cooperation regionwide, under US auspices, in terms of joint military training, exercising and developing a regional air defense and early-warning system architecture,” the think tank said.

Established in 1983, CENTCOM is responsible for the Middle East, including operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

On Thursday, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan called the move an “important US decision.”

“We always played a vital role in the region,” Erdan said. “Israel is eager to continue building its shared future with its neighbors and will strengthen its partnerships to confront Iran and other regional challenges.”

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