— by David A. Harris
This Shabbat has been an extremely difficult time for Israel as Israel’s Embassy in Egypt was attacked by protesters, and Israel’s Ambassador and staff had to be airlifted out.
Tonight, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the country and discussed in part how the Israelis made it safely home:
“I would like to express my gratitude to the President of the United States, Barack Obama. I asked for his help. This was a decisive and fateful moment. He said, ‘I will do everything I can.’ And so he did. He used every considerable means and influence of the United States to help us. We owe him a special measure of gratitude. This attests to the strong alliance between Israel and the United States. This alliance between Israel and the United States is especially important in these times of political storms and upheavals in the Middle East.”
As the crisis was escalating on Friday, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama coordinated directly by phone. The President expressed his “great concern” about the security of the Israelis serving at the Embassy, and he pressed “the Government of Egypt to honor its international obligations to safeguard the security of the Israeli Embassy,” as the White House noted.
More after the jump. .
This cooperation existed at many levels — not just between the President and the Prime Minister. As The Washington Post noted, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak had been in close contact with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the National Security Council’s Dennis Ross. The Post explains that Panetta pressed for and received assurances from the head of Egypt’s ruling military council that the Embassy would be secured.
The ramifications of this extremely disturbing event are significant and will be lasting — even as Prime Minister Netanyahu strives to maintain the treaty with a changing Egypt as he indicated he would tonight.
But with this strong security partnership — between countries, and between these two leaders, President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu and their teams — Israel’s safety and security can and will be assured.