Stoltenberg told Der Spiegel that NATO remains uninvolved in Middle Eastern security affairs.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Photo Credit: Universiteit Leiden

In an interview with Der Spiegel magazine, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that since Israel is only a partner state of NATO, and not technically a member of the alliance, NATO’s security guarantee would not apply to it. NATO’s treaty famously requires military intervention from all members of the alliance if any of its 28 members are attacked. However, this requirement does not apply to partner states, of which Israel is one.

Israel has officially been a partner state in NATO since 1994, and, as with most partner states, it has regularly contributed to NATO efforts in Afghanistan, Somalia and naval missions in the Mediterranean. Israel has previously attempted to open official missions in the NATO offices in Brussels but was blocked by doing so by Turkey. Israel is currently also classified as a “major non-NATO ally” by the United States, with some $3.4 billion in military aid being given by the US.

Stoltenberg’s comments come at a time when Israel and Iran are seeing increased military confrontations in Syria. Israel currently views Iran’s nuclear programs, military involvement in the Syrian civil war and sponsorship of terror organizations along Israel’s borders as a direct military threat. With the White House’s decision this month to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, Iran and Israel have come to direct engagements for the first time in the two countries’ histories. Iran has also been observed engaging in unusual troop movements along Israel’s northern border this month, according to the IDF.

A translated transcript of Stoltenberg’s full comments with Der Spiegel can be found at the Associated Press.