General Joseph Dunford
General Joseph DunfordReuters

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, arrived in Israel on Saturday evening for an official visit to discuss the Iran nuclear deal, Russia, and Syria.

This is Dunford's first official visit outside of the United States since assuming the post on October 1.

On Sunday, Dunford will review an honor guard at IDF headquarters at the Kirya in Tel Aviv before meeting with his Israeli counterpart, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot.

The two generals were expected to discuss a number of matters, including both countries' intelligence activities in the wake of the Iran nuclear deal, which the IDF describes as a strategic turning point, according to Haaretz.

The duo will also discuss Russian and U.S. operations in the region, the planned Iranian offensive in Syria, and the relationship and cooperation between the two countries’ armies. 

Talks on U.S. military aid to Israel have recently started between officials in various government ministries, and these discussions are expected to intensify in the near future. 

The Pentagon said in a statement that Dunford wishes to convey the American commitment to Israel's security, and to build a working relationship with Eisenkot. According to the statement, Dunford is also scheduled to meet the American Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro.

Dunford’s visit comes following several tense days in the wake of comments by Secretary of State John Kerry and his spokesmen at the State Department with respect to the latest terror wave.

In one interview Kerry had said that the latest violence was because of Israeli “settlement activity”. The comments were slammed by MK Motti Yogev as being “irrational”.

State Department spokesman John Kirby later explained to reporters that the Secretary of State was not assigning blame when he said a "massive increase in settlements" over the past year had been followed by the current outbreak of violence.

In a separate incident, Kirby himself asserted that Israel may have used "excessive force" against Palestinian Arab terrorists.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon blasted Kirby's contention, calling it utter nonsense.  Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan also lashed out at the State Department, accusing it of "accept[ing] lies...without investigation" as well as harboring a longstanding animosity toward Israel. 

On Thursday night, however, Kerry reiterated Israel’s right to defend itself from terrorism and called on Palestinian Authority(PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas to stop inciting to violence against Israelis.

Kerry made similar comments in a conversation on Friday with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.