An Israeli TV report details that the U.S. and Israel have signed a far-reaching joint memorandum of understanding to counter Iranian activities across the Middle East. U.S. and Israeli officials said the joint understandings were reached in a secret meeting between senior Israeli and U.S. delegations at the White House on December 12th. The document marks the beginning of a new cooperative effort against Iran, a senior U.S. official told The Jerusalem Post.
What it means: A senior U.S. official said that after two days of talks the U.S. and Israel reached at a joint document which articulates full cooperation to deal with Iran’s nuclear drive, its missile programs and its other threatening activity in the region. The U.S. official said the document goal’s was to translate President Trump’s Iran speech to joint U.S.-Israeli strategic goals regarding Iran and to set up a joint work plan.
At what the TV report described as a “secret” meeting at the White House, the U.S. and Israel specifically agreed to set up joint teams to handle various aspects of the Iranian threat. This includes a joint team, the report said, which will deal with Iranian activity in Syria and Tehran’s support for the Hezbollah terror organization. This working group will also deal with drafting U.S.-Israeli policy regarding the “day after” in the Syrian civil war.
Another joint team will deal with both diplomatic and intelligence activities designed to grapple with Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions. This group will further monitor and verify that Iran is not violating existing terms of 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.
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 U.S.-Israeli preparation for any escalation by Iran and/or Hezbollah. This team is also tasked with different escalation scenarios in the region concerning Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.
Player at the table: The Israeli team was headed by national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and included senior representatives of the Israeli military, Ministry of Defense, Foreign Ministry and intelligence community. The U.S. side included national security adviser H.R. McMaster and included senior representatives from the National Security Council, State Department, Department of Defense and the intelligence community.
Senior Israeli officials confirmed that the U.S. and Israel have arrived at strategic understandings regarding Iran that would strengthen the cooperation in countering regional challenges.
The Israeli officials said:
“The 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.”