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Trump backs US-Israeli defence treaty ahead of key elections

The move will help bolster the embattled Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

Donald Trump (AP)
Donald Trump (AP)

By Associated Press Reporters

US president Donald Trump has lent support to embattled Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of a critical election on Tuesday by appearing to publicly back one of his key priorities.

Mr Trump tweeted that he spoke with Mr Netanyahu to discuss the possibility of moving forward with a formal mutual defence treaty between the two nations.

The US leader said the pact would “further anchor the tremendous alliance between our two countries”.

The comments just days before Israeli voters are set to decide Mr Netanyahu’s political fate are the latest effort by Mr Trump to back the Israeli leader, perhaps his closest personal ally on the world stage.

Mr Trump added that he looks forward to continuing the discussions after the election when the two men meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly later this month.

In a Twitter post, Mr Netanyahu thanked his “dear friend” Mr Trump.

He added: “The Jewish State has never had a greater friend in the White House. I look forward to our meeting at the UN to advance a historic Defense Treaty between the United States and Israel.”

The vote this week is the second of 2019, after Mr Netanyahu was unable to form a governing coalition following elections in April.

The Israeli leader has been hampered by a hovering cloud of corruption charges that threaten not only to oust him from office but also to put him on trial.

Mr Netanyahu, speaking on Israeli television, described such a defence pact as “historic” and “great”, but it was not clear what it would add to defence ties that are already very close.

The US gives Israel more than three billion dollars (£2.4 billion) a year in military aid and considers Israel a “major non-Nato ally”.

The idea of a formal treaty has been discussed before and been determined to be unnecessary.

Outside of Nato and the Rio Treaty with Latin American countries, the US has separate mutual defence treaties with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand.

PA

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