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US foreign policy

Pentagon may delay moving Israel to US CENTCOM area of responsibility after violence

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan blasted the “Israeli occupation’s illegal practices,” during a call with his Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Maliki.

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The United States is putting the brakes on plans to include Israel in the US Central Command’s (CENTCOM) area of responsibility as Arab states move to distance themselves from Tel Aviv after the recent violence between Palestinian factions and Israel, sources familiar with the matter said.

Initially announced in January, the move to shift Israel to CENTCOM’s area of responsibility from the US European Command (EUCOM) was recently undergoing part of the Biden administration’s Global Posture Review.

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But as of last month, CENTCOM Commander Gen. Frank McKenzie spoke of his optimism in shifting Israel from EUCOM to the US military’s Middle East and Central Asia command.

“The normalization of relations between Israel and a number of Muslim-majority Arab states in 2020 and the realignment of the Unified Command Plan (UCP) moving Israel from US European Command to USCENTCOM provide new opportunities for enhancing regional stability and security cooperation,” McKenzie told the Senate Armed Services Committee in April.

Now, sources tell Al Arabiya English the Pentagon wants to distance itself from the ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel.

“The Pentagon wants nothing to do with what’s going on in Israel right now,” one of the sources said.

“And a number of Arab states, including those who made peace deals with Israel last year, are reluctant for it to be in CENTCOM at this moment,” the source added.

The Pentagon and CENTCOM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Lebanon are a few of the countries included in CENTCOM’s AOR.

On Friday, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan blasted the “Israeli occupation’s illegal practices,” during a call with his Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Maliki.

Despite repeatedly voicing support for Israel’s right to defend itself and its citizens, the Biden administration has used a noticeably different tone towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in recent weeks.

UAE-based The National reported earlier this week that the Biden administration ignored warnings from at least two Arab governments that the situation in Jerusalem was deteriorating.

And as the toll of civilian deaths continues to increase, Washington faces a difficult position as it has attempted to make human rights a pillar of its foreign policy.

A Palestinian man walks past the remains of a tower building which was destroyed in Israeli air strikes in Gaza City May 13, 2021. (Reuters)
A Palestinian man walks past the remains of a tower building which was destroyed in Israeli air strikes in Gaza City May 13, 2021. (Reuters)

Gaza’s Health Ministry has said that more than 100 Palestinians have been killed, including 31 children and almost 20 women.

Meanwhile, the White House refuses to issue a public answer of whether it will replenish Israel’s so-called Iron Dome air defense system with missiles.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki did, however, condemn the Hamas militant group for firing over 1.500 rockets at Israel.

Read more: Israel fired 450 missiles at Gaza within 40 minutes overnight: Spokesman