Mattis and Liberman
Mattis and LibermanAriel Hermoni/Defense Ministry

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Thursday met in Washington with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis. During the meeting, the two discussed regional strategic issues and ways to strengthen security and intelligence cooperation between the United States and Israel. Earlier, Liberman met at the White House with National Security Adviser General Herbert McMaster.

During his meeting with the Defense Secretary, Liberman said, "General Mattis, you are a true friend of the State of Israel, and the relations with you are an example of our deep relationship with the American administration. I would like to thank President Trump for his courageous and moral speech on Iran.”

"The Western world, headed by the United States, faces heavy challenges in the Middle East, including Iran's continuing attempts to expand its nuclear program in the region and in Syria,” continued Liberman. “Iran is the biggest and most dangerous terrorist exporter in the world, and the Revolutionary Guards is the largest and most dangerous terrorist organization in the world. Iran aspires to turn Syria into a front-line against Israel, also on the Golan Heights, and is working to establish air and naval bases on Syrian soil and to infiltrate tens of thousands of fighters from Shiite militias. We will not tolerate a situation in which Iran and its satellites will sit along our borders and we will defend our interests in every way we see fit and according to our red lines.”

Liberman also addressed Thursday's incident in the Golan Heights, in which the IDF returned fire after a rocket from Syria exploded on the Israeli side of the border.

"Any violation of the sovereignty of the State of Israel will be met with a determined response, just as the IDF acted a short time ago when it attacked in Syria as a result of the spillover of fire into the Golan Heights earlier today. We view the Assad regime as responsible for everything that is happening in its territory, and I suggest that our patience and our red lines not be tested. We have no intention of ignoring any attempt to violate the peace and security of Israeli citizens, as happened this morning in the north,” he stressed.

Earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also addressed recent IDF actions in Syria.

"We have a clear policy - anyone who tries to harm us, we will hit him back. We will not accept 'leakage,' and if we are hit, we return fire, and it will not take long to do so. But it is not only the sword that we have built, but also the plow, the building, the mind, and the creativity. Fifty years ago, the Jordan Valley was a barren and yellow land, sun-ridden and nothing more."