Israeli, U.S. national security advisers meeting amid tensions


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. and Israeli national security advisers will meet, demonstrating an “unprecedented level” of security cooperation, the White House said.

The announcement of the meeting between Susan Rice and Yossi Cohen to take place Thursday came as tension continued to simmer over an anonymous Obama administration’s official personal attack on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Both the White House and the Israeli Embassy in Washington announced the meeting on Wednesday. The U.S.-Israel Consultative Group meeting will take place at the White House.

“This meeting — and the fact that it occurs every six months — serves as a testament to the unprecedented level of coordination and cooperation between the United States and Israel, and between the president of the United States and the prime minister of Israel,” said Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman.

The White House also distanced itself from the anonymous official who told The Atlantic that Netanyahu was cowardly for not facing down settlement advocates in and out of his government.

Rice, addressing a symposium in Washington, said the meeting demonstrated that the U.S.-Israel relationship was not in “crisis,” as The Atlantic article that included the attack on Netanyahu had argued.

“We share information and engage in strategy on the range of issues that are of mutual interest in the region, from Iran to ISIL and all of the issues that we’re discussing here today, and many others,” Rice told the Washington Ideas Forum on Wednesday evening. ISIL is one of several acronyms for the terrorist Islamic State group. “That kind of deep cooperation, consultation, sharing, strategizing is unprecedented, and that’s something that has evolved uniquely in this administration.”

The Consultative Group meetings, chaired by each national security adviser, are routine and usually heralded with little fanfare. The last meeting was in May.

Separately, Reuters quoted U.S. and Israeli officials as saying this week that Israel had increased its order of F-35 joint strike fighter jets from 19 to 44. The United States shares the state-of-the-art stealth jet with only its closest allies.

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