Trump Floats Possible Defense Treaty in Latest Effort to Back Netanyahu
US President Donald Trump said on Saturday he had spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about a possible mutual defense treaty between the two nations, a move aimed at lending support to the embattled leader just days before Israelis go to the polls.
"I had a call today with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss the possibility of moving forward with a Mutual Defense Treaty, between the United States and Israel, that would further anchor the tremendous alliance between our two countries," he tweeted.
He added that he looked forward to continuing those discussions later this month on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York.
The timing of Trump's tweet, just days before Israel's election on Tuesday, appeared aimed at buttressing Netanyahu's effort to remain in power by showcasing his close ties to Trump.
Opinion polls predict a close race, five months after an inconclusive election in which Netanyahu declared himself the winner but failed to put together a coalition government.
Netanyahu's Likud party is running neck-and-neck with the centrist Blue and White party led by former armed forces chief Benny Gantz, who has focused heavily on looming corruption charges Netanyahu faces.
Some Israeli officials have promoted the idea of building on Netanyahu's strong ties to the Trump administration by forging a new defense treaty with the United States, focused especially on guarantees of assistance in any conflict with Iran.
But some of Netanyahu's critics have argued that such an agreement could tie Israel’s hands and deny it military autonomy.