According to Axios, one out of every three senators is pressing the Pentagon not to degrade the man in charge of security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
What’s at stake: This comes after Axios contributing correspondent Barak Ravid originally revealed that the Pentagon is considering reducing the number of generals and admirals by decreasing the official’s status from three-star general to colonel to comply with the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.
What we’re looking at: Senators Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) lead a bipartisan letter warning that reducing the post will jeopardise US national security and jeopardise peace and stability in Israel and the West Bank.
The senators wrote to US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, saying that downgrading the position would jeopardise key security projects and impede interactions between Israelis and Palestinians, which the USSC enables.
“A downgrade of this magnitude risks breaking the US-led international coalition dedicated to enhancing security and stability in Israel and the West Bank.”
Senators John Thune (R-South Dakota), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Raphael Warnock (R-Iowa) have all signed the letter (D-Ga.).
Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) wrote to Austin on Thursday, expressing worry that “downgrading the USSC’s status will impair the USSC’s purpose and jeopardise US security interests in the Middle East.”
Between the lines: According to Ravid, the State Department and the Israeli Defense Ministry are both concerned that such a move could harm security cooperation between the US and Palestinians, as well as coordination between Israeli and Palestinian officials.
Tony Blinken, the Secretary of State, and Tom Nides, the US Ambassador to Israel, have both spoken out against the plan.
Lt. Gen. Michael Fenzel, the current US security coordinator, has likewise stated that lowering the position would be detrimental to the mission.
The larger picture: The United States Security Coordinator (USSC) was established in 2005 to help the US fulfil its obligations under the Middle East Roadmap for Peace.
They have access to civilian and military officials in Washington, Jerusalem, and Ramallah because of their three-star position.
Both Secretary of State Tony Blinken and US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides have spoken out against the initiative.
The current US security coordinator, Lt. Gen. Michael Fenzel, has also warned that downgrading the position would be damaging to the mission.
The big picture is this: The US Security Coordinator (USSC) was established in 2005 to assist the US in fulfilling its duties under the Middle East Peace Roadmap.
Downgrading the position, the senators wrote to US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, would jeopardise critical security programmes and limit interactions between Israelis and Palestinians, which the USSC facilitates.
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Because of their three-star status, they have access to civilian and military officials in Washington, Jerusalem, and Ramallah.