David Schenker’s visit comes ahead of expected opening of provisional US consulate in the contested desert region.
US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser has promised his Israeli counterpart that the United States “will closely consult with Israel on all matters of regional security”, the National Security Council (NSC) said on Sunday.
In a brief statement, NSC Spokesperson Emily Horne said Jake Sullivan spoke to Meir Ben-Shabbat, Israel’s national security adviser, on Saturday.
“Mr. Sullivan reaffirmed President Biden’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security,” the statement reads.
The call comes just days after Biden was sworn in as the new US president, taking over from former President Donald Trump, whose administration shifted decades of unwavering US support for Israel even further.
Trump staunchly backed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s agenda, recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and its hold over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, among other measures.
During its final months in office, the Trump administration brokered several diplomatic normalisation agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. Those deals were rejected by Palestinians as a betrayal.
In its statement on Sunday, the NSC said Sullivan and Ben-Shabbat discussed ways to enhance the US-Israel partnership, “including by building on the success of Israel’s normalization arrangements”.
Biden’s US Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken earlier this week pledged that the US’s commitment to Israel’s security was “sacrosanct” and said the Biden administration would seek to build on the normalisation deals.
Blinken told a Senate confirmation hearing, however, that the administration would examine some of the commitments Trump made to incentivise countries to reach those agreements. He did not go into further detail on what that would mean.
Blinken also said the Biden administration intends to reach a “longer and stronger” Iran nuclear agreement, after Trump in 2018 unilaterally withdrew from an accord that saw Iran agree to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for a lifting of international sanctions.
Israel has backed the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” strategy against Iran.
It is unclear what effect, if any, Sullivan’s promise to “closely consult with Israel on all matters of regional security” would have on Biden’s efforts to restart diplomacy with Iran.