IDF chief talks security with Arab counterparts in Manama

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, Jan. 23, 2024. Credit: IDF.

(JNS) — Israel’s top general met this week in Bahrain with counterparts from several Arab militaries to discuss security coordination, Axios reported on June 12.

The meeting took place under the auspices of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and was kept under wraps due to Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, according to the report.

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi participated in the meeting in Manama alongside CENTCOM head Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla and senior military figures from Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.

The meeting signals continued military dialogue and cooperation between Israel and Arab countries despite the conflict in Gaza, and comes on the backdrop of the regional effort to thwart Iran’s destabilizing activities through its terror proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and beyond.

Kurilla visited Israel over the weekend at the invitation of Halevi, the Israeli military announced on June 11.

Kurilla and Halevi held an operational situation assessment, discussed recent regional challenges and the strengthening of the strategic partnership against the Iranian threat, according to the IDF.

They also discussed developments in the war against Hamas in Gaza and ongoing Hezbollah attacks from Lebanon.

In January 2021, as part of the Trump administration’s adjustments to the Unified Command Plan (UCP), Israel was officially transferred from the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) to CENTCOM.

This meant Israel was expected to engage in security cooperation (e.g., exercises, military sales, operational planning) with U.S. regional allies and partners also in CENTCOM—specifically, with moderate Arab states.

The Abraham Accords, signed in 2020, were a precursor to this move and a harbinger of future Arab-Israeli collaboration.