Report: Israel, U.S. to hold ‘big’ military exercise

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel and the United States will hold a joint military training exercise in May, just as the interim agreement with Iran on its nuclear program will be expiring.

The exercise “is going to be big,” an unnamed Israel military officer told Time Magazine, who identified the officer as “high ranking.”

“The wind from the Americans into the Israeli sails is, ‘We will maintain our capability to strike in Iran, and one of the ways we show it is to train,’” the officer told Time. “It will send signals both to Israel and to the Iranians that we are maintaining our capabilities in the military option. The atmosphere is we have to do it big time, we have to do a big show of capabilities and connections.”

Israel and the United States routinely hold joint exercises.

The exercise scheduled for May was planned independent of the Iran deal and other current problems in the region, a spokesman for the U.S. European Command told Time.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the deal signed by six world powers and Iran on Nov. 23 “a historic mistake.” Under the deal, Iran will freeze some nuclear activity in exchange for some sanctions relief. Netanyahu likely will continue to decry the deal, and work to make sure it does not become permanent.