President Trump said he spoke Saturday to Israel leader Benjamin Netanyahu about the possibility of a “mutual defense treaty” between the two nations—just days before Israeli voters go to the polls to decide the fate of their embattled leader.
Trump said in a tweet that such a defense pact — a Netanyahu priority — would “further anchor the tremendous alliance between our two countries.”
“I look forward to continuing those discussions after the Israeli Elections when we meet at the United Nations later this month!” Trump said.
The comments just three days before the election on Netanyahu’s political future were the latest effort by Trump to back Netanyahu, perhaps his closest personal ally on the world stage.
The timing of the Trump tweet appeared aimed at bolstering Netanyahu’s effort to remain in power by showcasing his close ties to Trump, Reuters reported.
Opinion polls predict a close race, five months after an inconclusive election in which Netanyahu declared himself the winner but failed to form a coalition government.
Some Israeli officials have promoted the idea of building on Netanyahu’s strong ties to the Trump administration to forge a new defense treaty with the U.S.– focused especially on guarantees of assistance in any conflict with Iran, Reuters reported.
But some of Netanyahu’s critics have argued that such an agreement could tie Israel’s hands and deny it military autonomy.
Netanyahu thanked Trump for his announcement, saying he looked forward to meeting him at the United Nations General Assembly, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“The Jewish State has never had a greater friend in the White House,” Netanyahu said.
The White House didn’t immediately elaborate on the tweet. A mutual defense treaty could take months to formalize, the Journal added.