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svgadminsvgOctober 3, 2011svgNews

Panetta in Jerusalem: U.S. is Committed to Israel’s Security

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met on Monday with United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu thanked Panetta for coming to Jerusalem and told him, “You’re coming to the Middle East at a time when it’s undergoing a tremendous convulsion. Probably nothing on this scale happened since the end of World War I, and during this time it’s particularly important to strengthen the security alliance between Israel and the United States.

“I have to commend you and of course, President Obama, for strengthening that alliance and our cooperation,” added Netanyahu. “I look forward to discussing with you in this meeting ways to do that. I think that’s important for our security and that’s important for peace.”

Netanyahu reiterated that peace has to be achieved “through direct negotiations between the parties. Yesterday, Israel welcomed the Quartet statement that called for direct negotiation without preconditions.”

He told Panetta that when he meets Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas “maybe you can tell him, encourage him to enter direct negotiations without preconditions. That’s our hope and I think it should be our common goal.”

Panetta thanked Netanyahu for the welcome, adding that he looked forward “to the ability to discuss some of the difficult challenges that face not only Israel but the United States as well.”

Panetta stressed his country’s commitment to Israel’s security.

“We have been strong allies, we have been strong partners,” he said. “We have always made a commitment to do everything we can to support the security of Israel and as the Secretary of Defense, I intend to continue that commitment. I think it’s important for us to say to this region that when it comes to the difficult issues we face we stand together to try to confront our difficult and common challenges.”

Prior to his arrival in Israel, Panetta warned that Israel is becoming increasingly isolated in the Middle East.

Speaking to reporters who were traveling with him, Panetta said Israel must restart negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and work to restore relations with Egypt and Turkey.

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