Last week it was reported that Israel would potentially cancel a joint military exercise with the United States in the wake of the potential deal with Iran. The story went viral in the Israeli and Jewish presses. This week the Israeli Air Force is telling a different story:
…despite Israeli press reports, the Israeli military wants to expand, rather than nix, the upcoming drill, known here as JC16.
…while military planners here could not attest to what may or may not have been under consideration by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon as a means of manifesting displeasure with Washington, all here said they have not been directed to rebuff US offers to expand cooperation through Juniper Cobra or any other exercise.
“On the contrary, we’re the ones seeking to build upon previous successes,” the Israel Air Force officer said. “Just last week, we had another bilateral coordinating meeting and as far as we’re concerned, it’s business as usual.”
…Spokesmen for Netanyahu and Ya’alon were unavailable for comment on Israel’s reported refusal to expand cooperation in the upcoming JC16, while an MoD source characterized earlier reports as “rumors.”
But Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an IDF spokesman, was unequivocal in his Aug. 13 response to Defense News: “There is no change in plans to carry out JC16. Preparations are underway as they are with many other exercises that will take place between the two countries.”
Respected veteran journalist Amir Rappaport ran with the original story, leaving one to wonder what else the political rumor mill may generate in the wake of the controversial Iran deal. Given the fact that Israeli leaders across the political spectrum unanimously agree that this is a “bad deal” one thing is for sure: While the Israeli press may have different tales to tell, their leadership may actually be on the same page, at least in this regard.