Defense minister heads to Washington to meet US officials

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman will fly to Washington Monday night for meetings with senior officials including US Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.!

“Minister Liberman said that during a meeting with Mattis that took place in Munich two weeks ago, he was happy to encounter a true friend who is committed to Israel’s security,” Liberman’s office noted in a statement announcing the trip.\

Liberman is looking forward to discussing with Tillerson “the security challenges that Israel and the US share in the Middle East, including Iran, Syria, and Lebanon,” according to the statement.

This will be Liberman’s first official visit to the US since President Donald Trump took office.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson in Washington, D.C., February 15, 2017. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson in Washington, D.C., February 15, 2017. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Speaking earlier Monday to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Liberman said that he had received calls from all over the world criticizing talk from within the coalition of Israel annexing the West Bank, including a candid communique from the new US administration.

“We received a message directly — not indirectly, not a hint — from the US, that Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank means an immediate crisis with the new administration,” the defense minister said.

A spokesman for Liberman declined to comment on who from the US administration had delivered the message.

Liberman’s comments came after Likud MK Miki Zohar on Sunday called for full Israeli annexation of the West Bank.

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