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Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and US Presdient George W. Bush - all smiles Photo: AFP
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and US Presdient George W. Bush - all smiles Photo: AFP
 
 

Official: US-Israel strategic alliance strengthened during PM's visit

Members of Olmert's delegation to Washington say US agreed to eqip Israel with F-35 fighter jets, connect country to missile alert system

Roni Sofer
Published: 06.05.08, 13:36 / Israel News

WASHINGTON – "The strategic alliance between Israel and the US has grown stronger amid the Iranian threat," a member of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's delegation said Thursday, adding that the countries agreed to cooperate in case of an attack by the Islamic Republic.

 

The official said President George W. Bush promised Olmert that the US would stand by Israel's side and supply the necessary means for its defense.

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"We reached agreements regarding the offensive and defensive resources Israel will require in light of the reality in the Middle East," the source said prior to the delegation's departure for Israel following an 80-hour visit that included meetings with senior Bush administration officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney and the president himself.

 

The meetings focused on "operational matters" pertaining to the Iranian threat, officials said. 

 

Following the meetings it was determined that the Americans would work toward equipping Israel with F-35 fighter jets and possibly F-22 warplanes as well.

 

The purchase of the F-35 is expected to upgrade the IAF's strategic capabilities. A Lockheed Martin Aeronautics jet, the F-35 – or F-35 Lightning II, as it is officially called – is a single-seat, single-engine stealth-fighter jet; meant to eventually take over for the F-16.

 

Israel intends to install several Israeli-made systems in its F-35s, which are expected to become operational in four years.

 

Moral support

Members of Olmert's delegation said the US also plans to connect Israel to a satellite system that warns of the launching of ballistic missiles. The advanced system, which was activated for the first time during the 1991 Gulf war, is capable of detecting missiles immediately after they are launched, thus giving citizens ample time to seek shelter.

 

Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas are making great efforts to equip themselves with missiles that threaten Israel’s home front and are liable to infringe on Israel’s tactical advantage. Exposing the home front to missiles may eventually lead to harm caused by atomic, biologic or chemical weapons and place Israel in grave danger.

 

In addition to the operational aspects agreed upon, understandings were reached regarding the continued attempts to halt Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear warhead armaments.

 

Israel’s position stating that Iran is indeed looking to arm itself with an atomic weapon contradicts an American Intelligence report which claimed that the Iranian arms race to attain nuclear weapons for military purposes ended in 2003.

 

Mike McConnell, head of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will meet with the head of the Mossad, Meir Dagan and with Defense Minister Ehud Barak regarding this issue.

 

“Prime Minister Olmert sums up this visit with a feeling of accomplishment,” said an official in his delegation who continued saying that “there is a strategic, functioning and well-coordinated pact with the US which we hope will provide visible results for the State of Israel one day.”

 

As of now, it is clear that Olmert received moral support from his colleagues in Washington, especially from Bush regarding the political crisis caused by the corruption investigation recently launched against him

 

Another official in the delegation said that “in friendships like this, nothing needs to be said. Bush and his government welcomed Olmert with open arms and that says it all.”

 

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