Gallant to Meet Defense Secretary Austin in Diplomatic Shift

Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is set to meet with his American counterpart, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, in Washington later this month, as announced by his office on Sunday.

This meeting marks the end of a perceived ban imposed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on ministerial visits to Washington, a ban that was in place until he received an invitation to visit the White House. Netanyahu’s recent meeting with President Joe Biden, which occurred two weeks ago on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York rather than at the White House as he had initially sought, set the stage for this shift. During that meeting, Biden expressed his intention to invite Netanyahu to the White House in the near future.

Gallant, who assumed his role as Defense Minister in late December, has already met with Austin twice before, both in Israel and in Brussels. Additionally, the two have engaged in numerous phone conversations over the past 10 months.

The Defense Ministry officially confirmed Gallant’s invitation to Washington, with the visit scheduled for later this month. The ministry’s statement also outlined the purpose of the visit, stating that “During the visit, Minister Gallant will meet with additional senior U.S. officials and will discuss developing security challenges and opportunities in the Middle East region.”

Gallant had previously visited the U.S. in late August to engage with officials at the UN headquarters ahead of a crucial vote on extending the mandate of a U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon. During that visit, Gallant held meetings with two White House officials, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf and National Security Council Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk. However, notably absent were meetings with senior American defense officials, as Netanyahu had not yet received his White House invitation at that time.

The forthcoming meeting between Gallant and Austin is expected to revolve around the pressing issue of the Iranian threat in the Middle East and the potential for a U.S.-backed normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

To Read The Full Story

Are you already a subscriber?
Click to log in!