NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana embarked on a landmark visit to Israel this week, meeting with top officials and reaffirming closer military ties between the Western alliance and the Jewish state. Geoana is the highest-ranking NATO representative to engage in direct talks with Israeli leaders in over a decade.
The high-profile trip aims to boost strategic cooperation against shared threats, with an emphasis on confronting Iran’s nuclear ambitions and countering its proxies like Hezbollah on Israel’s borders. It signals rapidly deepening ties between NATO and Israel after years of strained relations under former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Geoana held extensive discussions with Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, stressing NATO’s common interests with Israel on regional security matters. The talks covered intelligence-sharing, joint military exercises, advanced technology development, and maintaining Israel’s military edge.
“Israel is an important partner for NATO and we highly value our cooperation,” Geoana stated during a press conference with the Israeli ministers. He touted their “open and fruitful discussions” while reaffirming Israel’s long-standing participation in NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue.
The visit comes at a critical time when the Islamic Republic is said to be close to developing nuclear weapons capability and Israel faces threats from its allies like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria. Israel has grown alarmed at efforts by world powers to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
As part of his trip, Geoana toured Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, receiving in-depth updates on Hezbollah’s massive rocket arsenal. Israel sees the Iranian-backed militia as its most pressing security threat.
Geoana also discussed NATO member Turkey’s relationship with Israel after years of strained ties under President Erdogan. Israel seeks improved relations with the entire NATO alliance to bolster deterrence against shared adversaries.
Beyond the Iran focus, Geoana’s visit highlighted NATO’s broadening reach and priorities beyond Europe. Shared challenges like terrorism, cyber-attacks, and migration mean the alliance views Middle Eastern partners like Israel as critical to regional stability.
The trip signaled a new chapter in NATO-Israel ties after limited engagement previously. It demonstrated NATO’s renewed desire for strategic depth in the Middle East as geopolitical rivalries heat up globally. Through closer NATO coordination, Israel aims to strengthen deterrence capabilities in an increasingly volatile neighborhood.