Netanyahu urges increased relations with NATO


Israel’s prime minister met with the ambassadors of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) member states in Jerusalem yesterday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasised common values and goals, especially in the fight against terror. He said: “Israel has much to contribute to NATO. I believe NATO has much to contribute to Israel. We’ve already begun that process, but I think we can extend and increase our cooperation.”

In particular, he noted that “this meeting obviously comes at a difficult time,” given the terror attacks in Orlando and Tel Aviv during the last week. Netanyahu urged: “Terror knows no bounds, and that is why our cooperation in the battle against terrorism must know no bounds as well.”

He added:“We stand ready to help NATO in this collective struggle. We are prepared to share our intelligence and our experience to help in this common effort.”

Danish Ambassador to Israel Jesper Vahr, NATO’s Contact Point in the country, reiterated yesterday,“There are so many threats that are facing NATO that are similar to the ones facing Israel.” He read a statement from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, saying, “Israel is a very important partner for NATO,” emphasising that “Israel is an open democratic society” and along with NATO is facing “greater, more complex threats than for many years”. Stoltenberg added: “NATO and Israel are natural partners” and expressed hope for “an even closer relationship in the years ahead.”

In a significant upgrade of ties earlier this year, NATO recognised an official Israeli representative to the body for the first time and has given Israel a permanent office at its headquarters in Brussels. Netanyahu reaffirmed, “We’re in the process of opening the office as soon as possible. We attach great importance to that.”

Israel is not a member of NATO but enjoys military and security cooperation with the bloc. It is part of the Mediterranean Dialogue, a NATO outreach programme involving seven allied countries in the Mediterranean region.