Daily Israel Report

Hagel and Yaalon Discuss Egypt and Syria

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks with his Israeli counterpart about Egypt, Iran and the ongoing violence in Syria.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/22/2013, 3:42 AM

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon speaks with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon speaks with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
Flash 90

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke on Wednesday with his Israeli counterpart, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.

The two reportedly discussed Egypt, Iran and the ongoing violence in Syria, including claims of a chemical weapons attack, reported AFP.

In a brief statement after the call, the Pentagon said the two men "agreed to continue to maintain intensive dialogue on the multitude of challenges facing" their two countries.

Washington has demanded "immediate access" for United Nations inspectors to the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack by government forces on civilians in Syria.

Syria's main opposition group earlier accused the government of "massacring" more than 1,300 people in chemical weapons attacks near Damascus on Wednesday, saying many of the victims choked to death.

The United Nations Security Council convened on Wednesday to discuss ways to respond to the reports on the chemical attack. Yaalon earlier backed the opposition’s claims, saying it was not the first time that the Syrian government had used chemical

Washington concluded in June that President Bashar Al-Assad's forces had indeed used chemical arms in the past, including the nerve gas sarin, in attacks that killed up to 150 people.

In response, it promised to significantly toughen its stance on Syria and said it would provide military support to rebels for the first time. It has refused, however, to specify exactly what it is doing.

On Egypt, Washington is under pressure to cut its military aid to Cairo in the wake of a deadly army crackdown on supporters of deposed president Mohammed Morsi.

Israel has refrained from making public statements but an unnamed official was quoted in a media report earlier this week as saying that Israel and the West must support Egypt's army.

Israel fears that the U.S. cutting off its aid to Egypt would affect the peace treaty that the Jewish state signed with Egypt in 1979. The treaty has the two countries closely coordinating military activity in the increasingly lawless Sinai Peninsula.

Hagel visited Israel in April and met with Yaalon, and Yaalon reciprocated with a visit to the Pentagon in June.