US Secretary of Defense James Mattis landed in Israel on Thursday afternoon, as the third stop in his five country, week-long tour of the Middle East. Mattis held a joint press conference with his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, on Friday, emphasizing that he is ‘committed to Israel’s security”.
Though this is not his first visit to Israel, it is his first in his new official role.
“I’m honored to return to Israel once again to show my respect for this country and for the Israeli people. I am keenly aware that we stand together this morning, just a week before the Holocaust Remembrance Day, and we share a common determination to never allow such horrific event to reoccur,” he said.
Mattis said in 2012 that the three biggest threats to American security were “Iran, Iran, Iran”, and he repeated that sentiment at the press conference.
“Everywhere you look if there is trouble in the region, you find Iran,” Mattis told reporters in Riyadh after meeting with senior Saudi officials on Wednesday.
Mattis is familiar with the region, as he served as the 11th Commander of United States Central Command and was responsible for American military operations in the Middle East for three years. On Friday, he also met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.